Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 76 – WCOZ Situation Report

76 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Childcare reported that as at the 13th of June 2020, the number of Covid-19 positive cases had increased to 356 cases, after 13 new cases have been recorded from returning travellers.

Despite the rapid increase in the cases in Zimbabwe, the inconsistencies in the Zimbabwean eased lockdown, which is continuing indefinitely, are glaring. As of yesterday, religious services have been sanctioned to re-open with 50 persons and yet public transport buses have had their in-person limit increased to the maximum capacity of buses which is 75. The measures simply no longer make sense and are clearly driven by other imperative which are not related to science.

We highlight the International Albinism Awareness Day 2020 under the theme is ‘Made to Shine’ to celebrate the achievements and successes of people with albinism worldwide.

We amplify the concerns of the community of the persons living in albinism.

We highlight the deeply rooted myths and prejudices faced by people with albinism in Zimbabwe.

  • We urge Government to recognise the systemic exclusion that person living with albinism face which deprive them of equal opportunities in social, economic, and political spheres,
  • We call upon the government to enhance social protection of persons living with albinism and enact a legislation making it mandatory for Government to provide free skin lotions and other essential products for persons with albinism.

Critical Emerging Issues

Child rights and safety

Noting that the pandemic, has in various ways, impacted negatively on the lives of all children;
Recalling the report issued earlier in March by the United Nations raising alarm over the lack of protection mechanisms and early warning systems for children during Covid-19.
We raise concern over another report by issued by Europol that indicated the increased availability and demand for child sexual abuse material on the internet due to the increased prevalence of the children operating on the internet for purposes on online learning;

  • We buttress our call upon Government and to actively support mechanisms to provide support to household through the deployment of Social Welfare officers to conduct the critical inspections at homes that are reported to be at risk and to respond to such risks by
    – Ensuring that helplines for children remain fully functional.
    – Prioritising funding shelters and other places of safety for survivors.
    – Expanding critical services for children and ensuring accessibility.
    – Ensuring community child protection committees are supported to play their roles as community care workers.
  • We continue to call upon the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to activate a proactive process of registering person whose vulnerability has been exacerbated by the loss of their livelihood and safety needs through lockdown.
  • We recommend that Government invests in key services for children, in health and nutrition, education and protection against violence and ensure effective and direct means to reduce the occurrence of child labour in our communities.
  • We further recommend a deliberate active process to identify and provide support vulnerable families and children.

Non adherence to social distancing and other public health guidelines

Noting growing patterns on non-compliance with public health and safety protocols such as social distancing and sanitisation. This has been recorded nationwide, including service providers such as the ZUPCO bus, and other businesses where there appears to be a relaxation regarding constant disinfection of workspaces. On the other hand, the reports, reveal strict adherence to use of masks by the general public.

  • We therefore remind businesses, service providers and the general populace that wearing masks alone is not the panacea to curbing the spread of the pandemic. This measure should be supported with actions such as social and physical distancing, disinfecting work spaces and use of hand sanitizers.
  • In the same breadth, we urge Government, Civil Society Organisations and stakeholders to raise awareness on the WHO updated guidelines for proper use of masks.

Outstanding Issues

Delay in implementing social protection measures

Remaining concerned with the delays in implementing social protection measures which continue to hit hard on vulnerable households. It is gravely disappointing to note the lack of urgency by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, while on the other hand, the cost of living continues to soar high due to inflation.

This has raised a general sense of discontent and disgruntlement by the communities over the delays in the implementation of social protection measures by Government.

We also note that persons in the informal sector have been requested to formally register their enterprises forthwith, for resumption of operations.

We remain concerned that the attempt to formalise the informal sector as a prerequisite to accessing support to protect against vulnerabilities opens and expands the vulnerabilities of the same group of persons it is meant to protect;

  • We therefore call upon the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to expedite the implementation of social protection programs to alleviate economic shocks upon vulnerable households.
  • We further call the State to order, particularly on its duty to ensure that citizens enjoy the progressive realisation of their right to food and water.

Report on Plumtree and Beitbridge Prisons

Remaining gravely concerned that convicted persons and those on remand are amongst the most vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic. Further aware that on a daily basis there are new entrants who are sent to remand prison from the outside world, where they may have been exposed to the virus and remain asymptomatic;

Aware that Beitbridge and Plumtree prisons recorded Covid-19 cases in May;

  • We await a report on the current status of Prisons in relation to Covid-19, and to further update the Nation on the situation in Plumtree and Beitbridge Prisons.
  • Furthermore, we continue to urge Government, to urgently implement a comprehensive crisis plan to cater for the rights, needs and safety of detainees in the Covid-19 era.

We urge specific measures to protect vulnerable detainees such as juveniles, pregnant women, and women prisoners with infants in prison, persons with disabilities and those with underlying health conditions.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)