Period: Tuesday 02 June 2020- Monday 08 June 2020

Introduction

The Harare Residents’ Trust continues to monitor the situation in Harare suburbs during the lockdown. Level two continues, with formal businesses only allowed to operate. Informal markets remain shut. ZUPCO buses continue to operate, as private transport operators remain side-lined. As the HRT keeps track of events taking place 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. This situational update highlights the situation on water, health, people’s movement and awareness of Covid-19, food security, the transport situation, availability of fuel around Harare and some other updates.

Situation Update

1 Water

Most suburbs in Harare spent the week without tap water. Some received it, but for short periods. Residents in Budiriro 1 and 2 have not received tap water since Tuesday last week. In Rugare, some parts received water on Saturday 6 June whilst other parts did not have water for the whole week. In Old Mabvuku tap water was available for a single day the whole of last week. Supply was restored on Sunday afternoon up to Monday morning. Residents of New Mabvuku received council water on Monday 8 June only. In Zengeza 4, there has been no water since last week Tuesday. Since Tuesday last week, Highfields Paradise suburb residents had tap water for 2 (two) days only. In Crowborough, tap water was available until Friday morning. Residents in Gen Norah B also had tap water from Tuesday up to Saturday morning. Taps have been dry since Saturday. In Glen Norah A, tap water was available for one day only. Unit M Chitungwiza residents spent the whole of last week with no water. The same applies to suburbs such as Msasa Park, Hatfield and some parts of Mbare. The water situation in the Harare Metropolitan Province is forcing residents to crowd at community water points. In suburbs such as Mabvuku and Glen View, reports are indicating that children are spending time playing at the water points. There are no sanitisers at most water points in high density suburbs such as Mabvuku, Glen View and Dzivarasekwa. They have run out of the few donations that were made during the early phases of the lockdown. This has prompted some community borehole committees to start charging residents for money to purchase sanitisers. Residents are also paying borehole maintenance fees. In Glen View 3, residents who had not paid a ZWL$ 5.00 fee were not allowed to fetch water at community water points. This arrangement has left poor families stranded and with no other option besides fetching water from open and unsafe water sources. Residents in Budiriro 1 are also paying ZWL$ 10.00 each for sanitisers and borehole maintenance.

2 Health

Clinics are operating but they do not have medication whilst some are understaffed. At the council clinic in Glen Norah B, patients are not being attended to. They are being referred to Harare Hospital. For medication residents rely on the two pharmacies in the suburb. Residents from Tynwald South are relying on Rujeko clinic in Dzivarasekwa. The Sunningdale Satellite Clinic is operating and staff is available. However, reports from residents are indicating that patients are being mistreated at the clinic.

3 Movement and awareness of Covid-19

Interviews held last week with residents from Mufakose, Budiriro, Dzivarasekwa and Glen Norah showed that awareness is improving although some people are still ignorant of the situation. Some still believe that Africans, particularly Zimbabweans are immune to Covid-19. As a result, people are moving around without taking note of the recommended preventative measures. However, it is not only ignorance that is driving people out of their homes. Although informal markets are supposed to be shut under the level 2 lockdown guidelines, vendors are operating and movement within suburbs is very high as people go about their businesses. Mbare Musika has been operating normally during the past week. Last week, roadblocks in Harare were tighter than before and movement into the Central Business District was heavily restricted. On Tuesday 2 June formally employed people with exemption letters were being turned away at police roadblocks. The soldiers at Delport roadblock in Seke road were not even interested in verifying people’s letters. Everyone was turned away except for uniformed forces and nurses. It is still not clear why they were doing that. Residents from suburbs such as Kuwadzana, Warren Park and Tynwald faced the same ordeal at the roadblock at National Sports Stadium. From suburbs such as Braeside, Cranborne, Msasa Park, Mabvuku and Tafara, residents were turned away at the Eastlea roadblock. In some areas the operation continued for the rest of the week. However, business in Mbare continued despite some battles between vendors and riot police. The barred commuter omnibuses were avoiding police roadblocks on their way to and from Mbare Musika. On Monday 9 June 2020, normal operations resumed. Those with letters were permitted to enter into the CBD.

4 Food Security

Residents are becoming more food insecure with each passing week. Last week witnessed another rise in prices of food stuffs. Basic commodities are no longer affordable for most families. A 10kg packet of mealie-meal is now ranging from ZWL$ 300.00 to ZWL$ 450.00 depending with the brand and retailer. A 2kg packet of sugar now costs more than ZWL$ 150.00. Despite of the price increase, many supermarkets and shops did not have sugar last week. Most families are now resorting to the government subsidised mealie-meal which is scarce as well. Residents in Tynwald do not have access to the government subsidised mealie-meal because there are no big supermarkets in the suburb. On Friday 05 June, the OK supermarket in Glen Norah received about 300 packets of the subsidised mealie-meal. However, only half was sold to residents and the rest was taken by police officers, OK staff and their relatives. On Saturday 06 June, Glen Norah residents received food aid in the form of mealie-meal from the Hubert Angel Foundation. The elderly and the disabled were prioritised. No suburb has received the promised government food aid as yet. The needy in Ushewokunze were also lucky to receive donations of rice from a well-wisher. A resident from Budiriro reported last week that the elderly who are registered for government social welfare programs were provided with NetOne lines and they received ZWL $180.00 each to cover this month. According to the rate used by Spar supermarkets, this amount is about US$2.70 when translated to US$. It simply cannot sustain an individual for a day, yet that is what some breadwinners are receiving for a whole month.

5 Transport

The transport situation in Harare has not improved. People are still overcrowding at bus terminuses in the CBD and residential areas. Commuters are queueing for long hours waiting for the few buses that are operating. People are hardly practising social distancing in these queues. The ZUPCO buses are not adequate enough to transport the commuting public and as a result, commuters are packing each other in private vehicles and pick-up trucks. All this is threatening to derail efforts to contain Covid-19.

6 Other updates

Fuel is still a problem in Harare. Some fuel dealers are reluctant to sell because the pump price has fallen in value significantly. Customers at fuel stations across Harare are stampeding to get to the pump and this is also threatening to undo the efforts to contain the spreading of Covid-19. Lockdown enforcement agents were beating up people in the CBD last week. Businesses were ordered to shut on Tuesday 2 June at around lunch time. No reason was given for those actions. Some people had their valid letters torn apart by police officers and soldiers and were either beaten up or taken to the police station for fining. From Tuesday up to Friday, the atmosphere in the CBD was very tense. Police officers manning the roadblock near ZBC Mbare studios were reported to be demanding bribes from people without masks or letters permitting them to get into town. People without face masks were ordered to pay US$1.00 bribes whilst those wanting to get into town without exemption letters would pay around US$5.00 each. Reports coming from Ushewokunze indicate that some unscrupulous individuals are selling used masks.

Conclusion

Awareness of Covid-19 has improved although some residents still need to be educated. The improvement on people’s awareness is getting undone by food insecurity and unavailability of water in their homes. Residents are going out to transact in order to put food on their tables and they are also spending time queueing at community water points. Last week’s transport and fuel situations were bad and also resulted in people crowding at bus terminuses and fuel stations. Food insecurity is worsening among residents as prices continue to rise. Lockdown enforcement agents also need to start dealing with people professionally because they spent the whole of last week harassing citizens for no apparent reason.

Next Update – Tuesday, 16 June 2020.

HRT- Achieving Free, Empowered and Prosperous Citizenry! Stay Safe!
Contact Details: hretrust79@gmail.com, info@hrt.org.zw, 08677109781, and 0772 380 927, 0772 869294, 0778585126, www.hrt.org.zw

Source: Harare Residents Trust (HRT)