HARARE – Two sons of Zimbabwe’s information minister Monica Mutsvangwa appear to have jumped the Covid-19 vaccine queue as elites scramble for limited Sinopharm doses ahead of frontline workers, ZimLive can reveal.
Tawanda and Tinotenda Mutsvangwa posted pictures and videos of themselves apparently getting the jabs last Saturday before hitting the bar with a cousin named Farai, in defiance of Covid-19 regulations.
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Their father is Christopher Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe’s former ambassador to China and one-time adviser to President Emmerson Mnangagwa. He also heads the association of independence war veterans.
Zimbabwe received a donation of 200,000 virus doses from China. Mnangagwa and health minister Constantino Chiwenga told the nation that frontline workers, mainly nurses and doctors, police officers, prison officers, soldiers, journalists and lawmakers would get priority during the first phase of inoculation.
The Chinese vaccine requires two doses administered 21 days apart, and the available doses are just enough for not more than 100,000 of Zimbabwe’s 15 million citizens.
On Saturday, Tawanda – who calls himself @two_under on Instagram – posted a “story” of himself in what appears to be a medical facility apparently receiving the jab to the soundtrack of Meek Mill’s “Cold Hearted II”.
“Vaccinated,” the caption said, with a green tick at the end.
Elsewhere on Instagram, Tinotenda posted a picture of himself holding a Covid-19 vaccination card, which is issued after one has taken the vaccine. It was captioned “Sunday – 11:52:16 AM”.
Online, Tawanda describes himself as an “investment manager”and Tinotenda says he is “focusing on a career in both international development and the world of commerce.”
Minister Mutsvangwa was not answering her phone on Tuesday. A woman who answered said she was in Cabinet, before quipping: “My personal view is that you’re asking about adults. I imagine they can answer for themselves.”
Agnes Mahomva, the head of Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 response, declined to answer our questions, as she has notoriously done since her appointment last year.
Following their vaccination boasts, the Mutsvangwa brothers went to Ace Lifestyle in Borrowdale Brooke, which was open despite a government ban on nightclubs which has been in place since much of last year.
Farai posted an Instagram video, which was preceded by an image of a Covid-19 vaccine card which appears to be the same as the one earlier posted by Tinotenda, based on fingertip features.
The revelations of preferential vaccination will alarm donors.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance has called for an official inquiry.
“We are concerned at reports that a minister’s sons have priority access to the vaccine yet essential workers, the vulnerable and those that need the intervention most are yet to receive it,” MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said.
“It would appear that the distribution of the vaccine has already been plagued by corruption and nepotism. This is compounded by the flagrant violation of lockdown laws as they are allowed to frequent nightclubs and host prohibited gatherings. This is juxtaposed by the arbitrary, malicious arrests of MDC Alliance youths who are jailed for hosting a solidarity press conference outside a court house. The selective application of the law must be condemned.”
Mahere said the Covid-19 pandemic had “in many ways brought the bad governance, maladministration and performance legitimacy crisis of the regime into sharp focus.”
Ironically, minister Mutsvangwa only took her vaccine on Monday – after her sons had taken the life-saving jabs.
Both Tawanda and Tinotenda had not answered messages left for them. Their brother, Neville, said: “Ask Tawanda, he’s the one that posted.”
On Tuesday, Zimbabwe reported 32 new infections and two deaths. Since the virus was first detected in October last year, Zimbabwe has reported 36,321 infections which have resulted in 1,489 deaths.
The country has witnessed high profile deaths of leading figures, including three ministers – Perrance Shiri who headed lands and agriculture, foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo and Ellen Gwaradzimba, the former provincial minister for Manicaland.
Zimbabwe says it expects a further 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from the Chinese government, while unnamed Chinese companies have pledged 1.2 million doses, according to President Mnangagwa.
The country’s finance ministry also says it has acquired 600,000 vaccine doses “arriving from China in the coming weeks.”
The European Union announced last week that Zimbabwe will receive 1.152 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine under the COVAX scheme, a global initiative led by the World Health Organisation for an equitable Covid-19 vaccine distribution. – ZimLive