Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 45 – WCoZ Covid-19 Situation Report

45 days into the lockdown, and Zimbabwe is left with 4 days before the expiry of the lockdown. The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare reported that as at 12 May 2020, cumulatively a total of 12 869 rapid screening tests and 11 058 PCR diagnostic tests had been conducted. To date, a total of 37 cases have been confirmed as COVID-19 positive.

With 4 days left before the expiry of the lockdown, speculations have been ignited in the public discourse, as to the action Government will likely take on Sunday regarding the lockdown. Although in certain spheres it has been argued that, the inception of Level 2, did for all intents and purposes, lifted the lockdown altogether, as witnessed by increased activities and movements in communities and Central Business Districts, throughout the country.

There is clear need for sector specific and clear high quality information to be published by Government in advance to ensure that the resumption of socio economic activities is not guided by merely mandatory mask wearing. The so called “new normal” must be clearly delineated, well understood and actively supported by administrative and operational changes to ensure that Zimbabwe transitions from “High-gear lockdown” into the eased a measures meaningfully. This is a crucial discussion which requires thorough and deeper interrogation, noting that lately, we have started to experience an upsurge in community transmission cases.

We highlight the WHO position that it is important the countries properly equip and compensate nurses who are putting their lives at risk for the greater good of humanity especially in time of crisis. We accordingly note with concern, that the nurses in Zimbabwe and Government have failed to reach a solution to the critical questions of conditions of work and remuneration that has resulted in nurses giving formal notice to strike. Further concerned, of the reported quarantining of 40 nurses due to potential exposure to a COVID-19 patient which unveil shortage of Personal Protective Equipment for frontline health workers staff. These factors continue to reveal significant fragilities in the public health sector and erode confidence and trust of the capacity government to ensure that the needs of the nursing and health workforce are adequately addressed. We look forward to a progressive resolution of this matter.

Perplexed and shocked at the establishment of a new COVID structure in the Office of the Presidency, And its operational and administrative capacities in the middle of a crisis. Deeply concerned of the reshufflement of the lead technical administrator as COVID-19 cases increase and Zimbabwe seeks to expand a comprehensive response to the crisis. We, join members of the public in calling for a full accounting on the transfer of Dr Agnes Mahomva. We further remind the government of its constitutional obligations to ensure the appointment of women in the public sector is at 50 50 gender parity level and so accordingly, we look forward to the urgent appointment a woman in the Permanent Secretary position of the Ministry of Health and Child Care to work hand in glove with the newly created COVID- 19 response institute.

Critical Emerging Issues

1. Support for homeless persons

While we applaud Government’s efforts on establishing quarantine shelters in Mount Hampden and Ruwa, we reiterate the need to effectively cascade this initiative to other districts throughout the country. Our networks from Chinhoyi, have today reported an increase of homeless persons living on the streets, roaming about particularly in Chinhoyi Central Business District. Aware that most of our safety protocols have been largely anchored on staying at home and self-isolating, it is clear that these standards cannot be achieved by those vulnerable populations in the streets. We particularly raise the Chinhoyi case, in the backdrop of revelations of the reality of the existence of community transmission in Chinhoyi. We note that the living conditions of the homeless, which include lack of social distancing and poor sanitation, leave them vulnerable to catching COVID-19 or spreading it further throughout the district.

  • We therefore reiterate our calls for the Department of Social Welfare to immediately provide accommodation to all homeless people living ‘rough’ or on the streets and ensure that they go through mandatory quarantine and covid-19 screening.

2. Price hikes and hunger

Remaining concerned with reports indicating price hikes for basic commodities, particularly our networks have reported that in Shurugwi, ZBS Mabowa areas, 2kgs of sugar is priced averagely at ZWL$90 cash, while 2 Litres cooking oil is pegged averagely at ZWL$105 cash. This scenario must be understood against the background that Government through its social protection programs, is giving out averagely between ZWL$200-$300 ecocash, as a means to alleviate economic shocks on vulnerable households. Furthermore, it should be understood that the situation of majority of the vulnerable households has worsened under COVID-19, due to the lockdown and loss of income. This means that such households are plainly and wholly relying upon the Government for their very survival. Equally depressing is the fact that women are the most vulnerable on all dimensions of food insecurity.

  • We appreciate that access to food is a fundamental human right, which the government must fulfil for its citizenry.
  • We therefore ask the government to be real and get in touch with the food insecurity challenges that women are facing at community level and to implement comprehensive feasible strategies to alleviate economic shocks presented by COVID-19.

Outstanding Issues

1. Non-adherence to safety measures

Growing reports indicate non-adherence to lockdown and public health protocols in communities, particularly in Mbizo Kwekwe, Kariba, Tafara Ward 20 and Caledonia areas. It has been largely reported by our networks that persons are moving around with masks, hanging on their chins, or in most cases not observing social distancing;

  • We therefore remind the public to exercise proper use of the masks, and further that, use of masks is not a substitution for other safety measures.
  • Further, we urge the public to remain alive to and uphold the safety and hygiene protocols for curbing spread of COVID-19.

2. Security and crime

We remain concerned with reports from our networks indicating an increase of crime in their communities. Particularly, in Zvishavane Ward 9, where our networks have submitted reports of cases of robberies and theft targeted at women.

  • We note that an increase in crime may break public trust, leading to community unrest under COVID-19.
  • We therefore buttress our call upon the Zimbabwe Republic Police to strengthen securitization of COVID-19 responses, with the sole intention to curb crime and violence against women. In doing so, we urge the Police to uphold citizen’s constitutional rights.

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)