SOME apostolic members in Marange, Manicaland province, have reportedly withdrawn their children from school fearing that they could be vaccinated in violation of their doctrine.
Child rights defender Madzibaba Andby Makururu of Johane Masowe the Fifth of Africa yesterday confirmed the development and urged government to meet the leaders of the apostolic sects who are stopping their children from getting vaccinated.
“My advice to government before they take any action, they should first approach the leaders of those churches because these are the ones who have the power,” he said.
“The church leaders have a doctrine and if government wants that doctrine to be changed, it must first meet the leaders of those apostolic sect churches.”
Makururu has already urged his followers to embrace government’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.
Through his Ruvheneko Rwenyenyedzi Trust (RRT), Makururu promised to transform the indigenous church to suit global trends and values, chief among them safeguarding the girl child.
Human rights lawyer Passmore Nyakureba yesterday pleaded for government intervention to force the members of the Marange apostolic sect to embrace vaccination against various diseases.
“I think the issues that are coming out of Marange and other pockets with apostolic sect members in Manicaland are quite disturbing,” he said.
“We hear stories that the apostolic sect members are stopping their children from getting vaccinations that are being rolled about by government through the Ministry of Health and Child Care.”
Nyakureba added: “The membership of religious organisations is voluntary and it is a right of a person. Parents may choose what is good for their minor children at a tender age, but that does not also interfere with their children from accessing public facilities such as vaccinations because when they grow old, they may choose not to be apostolic sect members. These vaccinations protect them from diseases they may acquire in future.”
He challenged government to exercise its powers and ensure that all children were vaccinated regardless of parents’ religious beliefs.
“We have seen over the years that diseases like cholera and typhoid did not spare anyone. I really plead with the government of Zimbabwe to intervene and make sure that this situation is addressed,” Nyakureba said.
“I hope child rights-based organisations will take interest in these matters and possibly take those parents to the High Court which is the upper guardian of the minor children. The High Court can actually interdict or bar the parents from stopping their children from being vaccinated.”