As Covid-19 vaccination speeds up, two Apostolic sect leaders and some of their members were vaccinated yesterday at Seke North Clinic in Chitungwiza.
The leaders are Bishop Collen Chikwanya and his wife Ruth Sithenbeni-Chikwinya of Kufamba KwaJesu Apostolic Church in Chitungwiza who have at least 500 members in just the Harare branch.
The other leader is Reverend Edison Tsvakai who is the Secretary General of Union for the Development of Apostolic and Zionist Churches in Zimbabwe and Africa(UDACIZA) which is a grouping of 600 different Apostolic and Zion churches across the country and the region.
Speaking after vaccination, Rev Tsvakai said it was good to lead by example. "I work with a lot of churches and in my attempt to encourage other bishops to get vaccinated they would ask me have if i have been vaccinated myself when I was not."
"After careful consideration, I decided to get vaccinated so that I minimise the chances of getting the Covid-19."
Rev Tsvakai said it was important to comply with the Ministry of Health and Child Care directives and urged other Apostolic leaders and their members to follow suit.
"It is important to rely on what the Ministry of Health is telling us about the importance of this vaccine than to rely on hearsay of the alleged side effects of the vaccine. As Christians we have the holy spirit so why should we fear to get vaccinated and adhere to all Covid-19 restrictions."
"I am encouraging leaders to lead by example in their churches and encourage their members to get vaccinated too because this disease is real and has claimed lives of many people," said Rev Tsvakai.
Rev Tsvakai said churches under their union have been adhering to Covid 19 restrictions such as social distancing, wearing of masks and use of sanitisers during their church gatherings.
He, however pleaded with Government to consider reviewing upwards the number of people allowed to attend gatherings from 50 so that everyone gets an opportunity to come to worship God as a community.
Meanwhile, Bishop Chikwanya said prevention was better than cure and it was wise for all people to get vaccinated. He pledged to continue spreading vaccination campaign until all their members receive the jab. Mrs Chikwanya who was also vaccinated encouraged women to get vaccinated.
"I am encouraging other women to get vaccinated so that they stay healthy. Most women are the ones looking after their families so if they fell sick it affects the whole family. If we get vaccinated it also means that we can do the work of God well without fear," she said.
UDACIZA established in 1993 has been championing for the apostolic and Zion churches to participate in national health programmes and government policies which were seen as a taboo to be followed by most apostolic sects in the past.
They advocated immunisation of children, launched the HIV/Aids policy documents so that their members get medication and Child Protection Policy (2016) which is against early child marriages among other policies.