Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report: 16 April 2020 – Day 18

Introduction

On day 18 of the National Lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on 27 March 2020 followed by the gazetting of SI 83 of 2020 Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) on 28 March 2020, official statistics by the Ministry of Health and Child Care indicated that COVID-19 confirmed cases had increased to twenty-four (24), whilst the number of deaths relating to COVID-19 remained at three (3). The cumulative tests conducted is 1 299 of which 1 275 were negative.

Methodology

This report encompasses reports covering the 10 provinces of the country through reports received from the following Forum Members: Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP); Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA); Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR); Counselling Services Unit (CSU); Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, (ZADHR); Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights)

General Atmosphere

In Dzivarasekwa, community members from the Svikiro area were chased away by ZRP officers when they were repairing a borehole which was not working for the past 2 months. It was reported that the community borehole which served the greater part of the community was damaged over 2 months ago, community members requested assistance from the Harare City Council to help with the repairs. However, Harare City Council did not respond to the plight of the community members. Residents contributed ZWL2 towards purchasing parts required to repair the borehole. It was reported that ZRP officers saw the community members repairing the borehole and chased them away for violating the lockdown.

In Glen View, it was reported that yesterday Oxfam supplied water to an area which had gone for weeks without water. It was also reported that residents from the area were pleading for assistance citing that most of the community boreholes from the area were contaminated.

In Muyambi in Gokwe, it was reported that community members are defying the lockdown. Most of the people were seen drinking alcohol and some were playing cards and gambling in groups at Sianyenzu and Nkwanda village

In Buhera, community members were gathered at Chain business centre, where they were receiving food aid from the Ministry of Social Welfare. It was reported that social distancing was not observed. Similar food distributions from the ministry of social welfare were also reported in Chimanimani.

In Lupane, it was reported that ZANU PF supporters are politicizing food aid by giving preference to ZANU PF supporters during the screening process of community members who will benefit from the government’s food aid program.

In Mangwe, it was reported that community members are defying the lockdown in search of mopane worms. It was reported that the army closed down an area where community members usually get mopane worms called Blackwater. Mopane worm gatherers are reportedly going to Blackwater at 2 am before the soldiers start their patrols.

Assaults

In Bikita, police officers assaulted 8 people who were drinking alcohol at Ngorima and Sadonza Business centre. It was reported that the police officers raided 2 beerhalls and indiscriminately assaulted patrons with baton sticks. In the process, two (2) shop keepers were arrested and taken to Bikita police station where they were fined ZWL500 for opening their shops after the stipulated time frames.

Summary of Violations

The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March 2020 to 16 April 2020.

Nature of ViolationNumber of VictimsLocation
Assault164Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita
Attack on Journalists12Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo
Arrests194Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita
Malicious Damage to Property1Harare

Court Update

The Bulawayo High Court on 16 April 2020 dismissed an application filed by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights on behalf of Gweru Residents Forum seeking an order that the Municipality of Gweru be compelled to provide safe, clean and adequate water to the Gweru residents during the current COVID-19 national lockdown. Justice Maxwell Takuva dismissed the application on the basis that it was not urgent.

The Forum has since issued a statement expressing concern over the dismissal of this and a similar application filed by the Trustees of the Greater Hwange Residents Trust. The application was dealt with by Justice Evangelista Kabasa who also dismissed it on the basis that it lacked urgency.

Justice Manzunzu deferred to Friday the hearing of an urgent application filed by MISA Zimbabwe and Pananshe Miche, seeking an order to stop Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and other enforcement officers from harassing or interfering with journalists during the national lockdown.

Conclusion

Cases of partisan distribution of food are on the rise, the Forum calls upon the government to investigate these cases and to offer a level field for all community members to benefit from food aid. The increasing cases of confirmed COVID-19 cases are worrying given the increasing defiance of the lockdown by citizens. The Forum, therefore, calls upon community members to adhere to the lockdown and social distance.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Right NGO Forum (HRForum)