Today, 1st MAY 2020, We commemorate International Workers Day. Coming at a time, when the world is predominately in lockdown, we salute the women who constitute over 80% of the Zimbabwean Healthcare workforce. We take this moment to appreciate and salute our heroes, the frontline and essential workers who are carrying the burden of the universe on their shoulders, in fighting COVID-19. We stand in solidarity with the women frontline workers, and men who, after spending the day on the battlefield, facing physical and psychological pressures, still have to go home and hold it together for their families.
We tip our hats, to the unsung super-heroes, the mothers, wives, sisters and the women, who are working an extra hour within the household, laboring with the burden of unpaid care-work, which lately, has increased due to COVID-19. We salute you! We reinforce our calls upon Government to strengthen its capacities to protect and promote the safety and well-being of all essential service workers in response to COVID-19. We call upon all employers in the public, private and civil society sectors, as we move into Level 2 of the lockdown, to prioritize safety and well-being of workers in their respective operating environments through the provision of face-marks, sanitizers, washing facilities and pay.
Today marks the 33rd Day into the Lockdown. As at 30th April 2020, a total of 8 314 diagnostic and screening tests had been performed. Of these cases, 40 were confirmed as COVID-19 positive. What is evident from these figures is that as a nation, we have not conducted enough testing and contact tracing to be able to beat the targeted 33 000 mark. These statistics also demonstrate clearly, that as a Nation we are not at the moment, adequately prepared to lift the lockdown as per the WHO Guidelines.
Calling upon all employers to understand the changing nature of work and in particular the unique constraints that working during the COVID-19 pandemic create:
- We urge all employers to adapt their working environments and provide the necessary tools of trade.
- Additionally, employers should understand and provide support for mental health and wellness for their teams.
- Furthermore, employers should engage employees and ensure the adequate provision of PPE and sanitization in places of work.
We note the re-opening of industry, provided that companies must ensure mandatory screening of all employees, social distancing in the workplace, sanitization and that all employees wear masks.
Extension of the lockdown
Noting that the lockdown has been extended by another 2 weeks, to 17 May 2020, and that the Country is now in Level 2, which is a partial lockdown;
- We commend the timeous Presidential announcement on the roadmap of the Lockdown and measures to address the spread of the COVID-19. This gives citizens reasonable time for citizens to engage with the new upcoming measures and to be aware of the next steps that Government is proposing in regards to addressing the impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods.
- We further applaud the detailed note on the education sector, which addressed the increased speculations in the public space domain, on actions to be undertaken in the education sector. Whereas, we note that the education sector remains closed, we commend the progressive level of engagement and consultation being undertaken to create a substantive pathway to the re-opening of this critical sector, and in particular, efforts to address the diversified needs of all learners, teachers, workers and communities appropriately. We remain vigilant, monitoring progress on this front.
Critical Emerging Issues
1. Gender Responsive Plan in Executing the Stimulus Package
Deeply distressed with reports from our networks at marginalised community and national level highly demonstrating that women are facing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic from all sides;
We call to the attention of the Government, the following realities;
I. Women constitute the majority of the frontline healthcare workers.
II. Women dominate the informal sector which constitutes 60% of the Zimbabwean economy.
III. Women are facing the household burdens of hunger and negative coping mechanisms.
IV. Women are experiencing a quadruple increase in Gender Based Violence
V. Women continue to face an increased unpaid and unrecognised and unsupported burden of care work
- We therefore call upon the Government, to ensure gender responsiveness in the operational and administrative measures in executing the ZW$18 billion Economic Rescue and Stimulus Package.
- We further urge Government to prioritise women as a special vulnerable group that qualifies to benefit under the announced food grant programmes.
2. Mandatory Wearing of masks
We further note that as we move into Level 2, persons are now mandated to wear masks of any type, including home-made ones, outside their homes.
- We therefore call upon the Ministry of Health and Child Care to address public concerns regarding wearing of masks, and to issue detailed guidelines and explanations of mask usage in line with WHO guidelines.
3. Food Grant Programmes
Applauding the announcement on introducing a food grant programme to the tune of ZW$2.4 billion for the rest of 2020 and that this initiative is earmarked to protect the vulnerable members of our society;
- We urge the authorities to be transparent and non -partisan in the distribution of this scheme.
- We further call upon the independent Commissions such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to closely monitor progress on this and ensure that every citizen’s right as provided by section 77 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe is not violated.
- We further urge Parliament of Zimbabwe to be more hands-on, in regard to exercising its oversight role in terms of the Constitution.
4. Domestic Workers
- We call upon government, to give clear and express guidelines on domestic workers during the lockdown;
- We call for an express announcement on domestic workers in regard to the easing of lockdown.
This express announcement, led by government, would significantly protect the most vulnerable of workers who are entitled to equal protection of and benefit of the law but whose role is invisible in our society at all levels and in all communities.
1. Testing and Tracing
Concerned with the low number of cumulative tests conducted to date;
Understanding that lockdown alone, is not the answer to addressing COVID-19;
- We buttress our calls upon Government to rapidly expedite and expand the testing and contact tracing mechanisms.
2. Restrictions in Accessing Non-COVID19 Health Care Services
Remaining concerned with the growing reports in our networks of communities failing to access health services
- 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 series and public health access to medication particularly, for persons with chronic illness.
- Call on Government to message appropriately to health centres to ensure the provision of non-COVID-19 related health services during the lockdown.
This SITREP is developed 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)