HRT Covid-19 Situational Update (18 May 2020 – 21 May 2020)

Introduction

On 17 May 2020, the President announced that lockdown level 2 is to be extended for an indefinite period, with reviews to come after every two weeks. Essential services continue to be accessible to residents, while informal street markets remain shut. Operating hours for businesses have been extended from a maximum of six hours to more than eight hours between 8am and 4.30pm. People are still required to leave their homes wearing face masks, whether improvised or manufactured. Anyone found outside their home without a face mask faces arrest. Private transport operators are still not permitted to operate and those who wish to operate should join and do so under the ZUPCO franchise. The Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) continues to monitor the situation in Harare suburbs during the lockdown. Key areas of monitoring include water delivery, citizens’ awareness of the coronavirus, responsiveness of council officials on citizens’ reports, lockdown enforcement by City and State security officials (human rights approach), refuse collections, compliance with lockdown regulations on people’s movement. The situational update also highlights the situation on food security, the transport situation and availability of fuel around Harare.

Situation Update

Water

Water supply is still a problem across Harare suburbs. A few suburbs are receiving municipal tap water, and when they receive it is for a few days per week and for a few hours per day. In Budiriro 2, residents are still receiving council water twice a week, from around 2300hrs to 0100hrs when people are asleep. In Ardbernnie, there is no water since Monday, 18 May. Residents in Mabvuku received tap water on 18 May from around 12pm to 3pm. This was for the first time in three years. They have been relying on City Council water bowsers and community boreholes. However, the bowsers did not come this week leading to increased pressure on the boreholes. In Glen View, only residents from Glen View 3B received water on Tuesday, 19 May. Other parts of the suburb have not received water as yet this week. They are relying on boreholes as well. In Glen Norah A, residents received water from Monday 18 May to Wednesday 20 May. Residents in Glen Norah B had tap water for brief periods on Monday and Wednesday, 18 and 20 May 2020. In Rugare Ward 13, pipes were being repaired during the past week and people started receiving water on Tuesday 19 May. Tap water is available in Kuwadzana 5 since Monday. In Tynwald South there is no water since Tuesday. In Unit K Chitungwiza, there is no water and residents are having to rely on private water bowsers and boreholes which are selling water at an average of $ZWL 2.00 per 20-litre bucket. The unavailability of tap water is resulting in queues at community water points, where social distancing is rarely practised. Private players continue to thrive as more and more residents are resorting to buying water.

Health

The council clinic in Kuwadzana 5 is mainly attending to emergency situations. The maternity scale is not operating. Rujeko Clinic in Dzivarasekwa is operating normally. They are however attending to a limited number of people per day, as a preventative measure against Covid-19. Mabvuku Clinic is also fully functional. Residents in Glen View are reporting that they are getting assistance at Makonzva Clinic without any challenges.

Movement and awareness of Covid-19

It seems as if the lockdown is only restricting people’s movement into the Central Business District, while movements within and across neighbouring suburbs is not restricted. People are moving around freely and social distancing is not being practised. In Rugare people are now drinking beer at shops and shops are no longer limiting the number of people entering. In Kuwadzana 1 the situation is the same. People are moving around disregarding the proposed preventative measures. Young people are the main culprits in Glen View. People across Harare suburbs are also ignoring the call to wear face masks. Residents are only wearing the masks when they are visiting places that they know they might come across the police. Masks are not being worn as a preventative measure, but for fear of the police. Awareness is therefore still lacking in the communities. On Monday and Tuesday, a large number of people were arrested at Unit L shops in Chitungwiza for not wearing masks. The police are conducting surprise raids at shopping centres, and the number of people getting arrested for not wearing masks shows that people are lacking awareness. On Wednesday, 20 May 2020, people were arrested again at Makoni Shopping Centre. On Monday 18 May, in Kuwadzana 7 soldiers chased away people who were congested at a borehole without practising social distancing. Generally, people are still ignoring the proposed preventative measures because there is a belief that Black Africans are resistant to the disease. There is also a sense that people should just look for money and stop worrying much about their personal health. People seem to take the health situation lightly, preferring rather to focus on livelihoods. They need to be educated thoroughly.

Food and security

Families are struggling to make ends meet, and putting food on the table has become a difficult task for many breadwinners. The situation has not improved. People are still waiting for the government’s promised food aid which came at the beginning of the lockdown on 30 March 2020. On Monday, 18 May 2020 in Kuwadzana 1, officials from the ruling party distributed packets of rice to party members. Those without proof of being ruling party members were not assisted. Reports this week are indicating that in some suburbs there are no more long queues at supermarkets. OK supermarket in Mabvuku does not have basic commodities. Commodities are available in small supermarkets, but they are priced beyond the reach of most of the consumers. A 2kg packet of sugar is going for $ZWL 65.99 at Machipisa Shopping Centre. It is now rare to come across the government subsidised mealie-meal, which was selling at ZW$70.00 per 10 kg packet. This means that residents have to resort to the mealie-meal in small shops, priced at an average of $US5.00 per 10kg.

Responsiveness of council officials on citizens’ reports

A resident in Canaan Highfield has been reporting an electricity fault since the beginning of the lockdown. They are still to receive assistance from ZESA officials. In Rugare, residents spent six days without electricity. The fault was repaired on Tuesday, 19 May. However, some faults which were reported in Mbare National and Bradfields were not attended to. In Kuwadzana 5, sewage bursts are being attended to quickly.

Transport

Reports this week are showing that the ZUPCO buses are still falling short way beyond the number that is needed to transport people to and from their workplaces. People are spending hours queuing for buses at termini around Harare. At Unit C in Chitungwiza, people are starting to queue as early as 3am. People are also congesting at bus termini across the CBD after work. Social distancing is not being observed, with shoving each other as they try to gain entrance into the few buses that are available. Some are leaving the CBD after 10pm, and these are the same people who have to start queuing very early the next morning.

Other updates

Lockdown enforcement authorities are no longer moving around in suburbs, despite a few visits to shopping centres. On Monday it was reported that in Zengeza 5, the police received bribes from people who were not wearing masks. School extra lessons are now being done at teachers’ homes in Glen Norah B, Glaudina, Dzivarasekwa, Kuwadzana, Glen View and Budiriro. However, the teachers are sanitising students and trying to observe social distancing. The availability of fuel is now a problem across the Harare Metropolitan Province.

Most fuel stations do not have diesel. The queues for petrol are now getting longer. Diesel is available at fuel stations which sell in $US.

Conclusion

Residents are still lacking in terms of awareness. People are moving around freely, without implementing the proposed preventative measures for Covid-19. The lockdown enforcement authorities are also not doing enough to stop the unnecessary movements and some are also reported to be receiving bribes from trespassers. Water is still an issue, as people are having to queue at community boreholes and paying private suppliers. Families are struggling to put food on their tables because the informal sector is still shut down and prices continue to increase. The transport situation also needs to be addressed because people are spending more time in queues than they are spending on production. ZUPCO buses should be increase to cater for the increased number of workers going to work under the Level Two lockdown regulations.

Source: Harare Residents Trust (HRT)