Today marks the 15th Day of the Lockdown in Zimbabwe, and 6 Days before the Zimbabwean Lockdown is due to end yet the nation remains anxious as to events that may unfold in the last week of the lockdown, particularly with the growing confusion on lockdown enforcement and realities surrounding the state of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe.

The Government of Zimbabwe as authorities’ one hand appear to have relaxed their enforcement of the lockdown with several communities and areas not being responded to by law enforcement personnel and on the other hands significant harshness and brutality upon certain communities. The inconsistencies in policing the lockdown are sending mixed messages. In the context of sector permit not being clear on how they operate and their being respected at police stops this is problematic for citizens to determine the level of consistency in the guidelines of the Lockdown.

Appreciating efforts by Government and other players in breaking the communication barrier by translating COVID-19 key messages into other local languages;

Critical Emerging Issues

As of 13th April 2020, we have noted the following critical emerging issues that require urgent redress:

1. Gender Based Violence Cases on the rise – reports

We amplify the crisis of domestic violence that is ripping through our communities during the lockdown and putting the lives of women at risk. We call upon government to realise the crisis of the 11 days of lockdown that has resulted in 764 reported cases. It is problematic that the national GBV responsiveness and readiness systems rests on Civil Society Actors and that government has not taken the lead in providing GBV services. Concerned that leadership is not speaking out against GBV making the lives of victims of violence invisible:

  • We call upon government to step up its support to address the crisis of the domestic violence during this lockdown with stronger measures driven by the state to stop the violence.
  • We re-emphasize that GBV responsiveness is critical within the COVID 19 pandemic.

We recommend the proactiveness of Government by undertaking the following;

  • All GBV shelters to be designated as essential services, to be manned and provide services during this period whilst respecting rules of sanitisation, self-isolation and social distancing.
  • The development of the GBV hotline to compliment the COVID-19 ‘2019’ hotline.

2. Disbursement of Funds to COVID-19 Responding Institutions

We remain concerned by the reports for the Provincial and District COVID-19 Taskforce teams who are indicating they are still awaiting various supplies to strengthen their abilities to implement the preparedness and response plans

  • We amplify the call for the expedition of the disbursements of funds to frontline institutions and personnel’s personal protective equipment.
  • We also call for the disbursement of Funds from Treasury to Ministry of Health and to Local Authorities to strengthen at their abilities to practically respond to COVID 19 in line with the developed response plan.

3. Transparency and Clarity in Social Protection Measures

Noting that the registration procedures for announced social protection measures to be led by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare with on beneficiary registration and vetting from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and medium Enterprises procedures have not been publicized. Gravely concerned that the process of registration of those who may be genuine cases who are excluded may therefore fail to access the measures. Concerned further that there are vulnerable persons who may be excluded because they do not belong to any particular formal grouping or association. Further concerned of reports regarding the confusion between Netone numbers and Econet number regarding this
registration process;

  • We call for transparency in the administration of registration, vetting and disbursement processes of this support.

4. Restrictions in accessing health care services

Fully aware that healthcare centres must prioritise the readiness for COVID-19, Health policy makers and health administrators must ensure there is appropriate provision for on-going access to general health care services whilst catering to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Reminding government that the right to health remains a constitutional and fundamental right, even in the face of any humanitarian context;

Concerned by reports of communities failing to access health services particularly in areas such as Gweru, Shurugwi, Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe and Marondera;

  • We reinforce our call for special attention to uninterrupted accessibility and provision of health services.
  • We continue to call for the provision of the healthcare services and public health access to medication for persons with chronic illnesses.
  • We call on government to provide continued provision of non-COVID-19 related health services during the lockdown.

Outstanding Issues

1. Centres for Quarantine of Returning Residents and Travellers

Noting the strengthened enforcement of mandatory quarantine of travellers from outside the country, in order to curb the potential spread of the COVID-19 disease;

  • We call for psychosocial support to be strengthened to those admitted in such centres and the provision of counselling services to both the persons held and their families.
  • We reiterate our call for the deployment of social service workers to provide the critical services that the crisis of the care has created and further the support to community case care workers to undertake this critical work.

2. Disregarding of Social Distance

Noting reports of citizens who continue to defy social distancing and other containment measures, particularly in Gwanda and Zaka East, where it has been reported through our networks, Concerned by reports of continued non-adherence in Mbare, with adults continuing to hold community soccer matches;

  • We urge communities to cooperate in exercising social distancing guidelines and upholding the law on containment of COVID-19.
  • We further urge, the Government, media, private players and civil society organisations to continue to disseminate information on COVID-19, the lockdown and the law on containment of COVID-19.

3. Water

Recognising that many reports continue to indicate challenges faced by women in accessing water, particularly at water sites and communal boreholes, in areas such as Warren Park and Dangamvura,

  • We continue to call upon COVID-19 Inter-Ministerial Taskforce and Local Authorities, to urgently and equitably announce and implement practical steps to provide bulk clean safe water to communities facing extraordinary lack of water and sanitation services.
  • Deployment of Police at bulk water deliveries points to ensure social distance at water points
  • Provide communal water management communities access to sanitation products to sanitize bush pumps.

4. Procurement of Personal Protective Equipment

Reiterating the need to escalate procurement processes of the equipment and products required for testing tracing and treating COVID-19, particularly as it is clear that there are global procurement challenges regarding the same;

Aware of the challenges currently being faced by frontline workers and community COVID-19 taskforces;

Concerned by the low statistics on Zimbabwe’s cumulative tests conducted to date;

  • We emphasize on the urgent need to procure Personal Protective Equipment to ensure the safety of our health workers.
  • We raise the attention of government to provide local authorities and districts the capacity to buy and distribute soap and sanitizers to community centres, community bush pumps and
  • We draw the attention of the Government to the work in South Korea and Senegal, which countries have developed rapid testing kits which are easy to use and easily accessible

5. After the 21-day lockdown

Remaining concerned that the nation has commenced the final week of the lockdown:

  • Noting that Government has not yet communicated its position and preparedness for the possibility that Zimbabwe may experience a surge prior to the end of the lockdown and or Post the Lockdown Period.
  • We call for the articulation of the national plan and roadmap to stopping the spread of the disease aftermath the lockdown.

This SITREP is develop by and through the collective network of organisational and individual members of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe who are engaged at community levels to national levels in the COVID19 Zimbabwe response

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)