THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)’s court challenge against compulsory vaccination of workers has suffered a major blow after government and several private entities cited as respondents dismissed it as not urgent and defective.
ZCTU recently filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking an order stopping employers from forcing their unvaccinated employees from reporting for duty until they got the COVID-19 jab.
The labour body cited Labour minister Paul Mavima, Attorney-General (AG) Prince Machaya, Zimnat Insurance Company, Zimbabwe National Road Administration, TelOne, Windmill, Seed Co Zimbabwe and Manicaland State University as respondents.
Machaya, who responded on behalf of the Labour minister, said there was a misjoinder of respondents.
“This is a clear case of misjoinder of the first and second respondent. The functions of AG are outlined in section 114 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the applicant has shown no reason why he has cited the AG in the current proceedings. As the AG, I have no direct control over the administration of the Labour Act and as such the application should be removed from proceedings,” Machaya submitted.
Machaya also said the minister had no duty at law to advise companies on how to conduct their business and to adhere to the provisions of the Constitution and legislation relating to public health.
“This being a constitutional matter, applicants ought to proceed against the alleged violators of the constitutionally enshrined rights. There, thus, is no basis for citing the first and second respondents in these proceedings. Applicant should be made to pay costs for unnecessarily dragging the respondents to court.”
TelOne, through its head employee relations, Lindy Dziripi, said the ZCTU application was not urgent.
In a related development, Parliament has rejected a petition by Chiredzi-based human rights activist, Marko Shoko, challenging mandatory vaccination.
Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda confirmed yesterday that they had rejected Shoko’s petition.
“We receive a lot of petitions everyday and forward them to relevant committees. If they are rejected we notify the writer. In this case we have already notified Marko Shoko about it,”
However, Shoko denied ever receiving any communication from Parliament.
“I haven’t received such communication from Parliament. Even if the petition is accepted, they don’t communicate. I usually read some of my petitions in the Hansard,”
Shoko of Tshovani, Chiredzi, last month petitioned Parliament arguing that forced vaccinations violated sections of the Constitution.
He said depriving unvaccinated people certain services was against the government’s stated position that COVID-19 vaccination was free and voluntary.
This was after government announced that only vaccinated workers will be allowed to board Public Service Commission buses. More and more companies are also placing unvaccinated workers on forced leave.
Shoko argues that mandatory vaccination violated citizens’ right to privacy which includes the right not to have medical conditions disclosed (section 57(e)), and not to be treated in an unfairly discriminatory manner on such grounds as religious beliefs among others.
He further said section 35 of the Public Health Act provided that no health service or treatment shall be provided to a person without their informed consent, arguing that for the consent to be valid, it must be voluntary and informed, and the person consenting must have the capacity to make the decision.
According to Shoko, voluntary and informed consent or refusal to consent to a particular health service or treatment must be respected.