Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 91 WCoZ Situation Report

91 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that as at 28 June 2020, the total number of Covid-19 remained 567. No positive cases were recorded today. According to statistics, to date, a total of 142 cases have recovered since the onset of the outbreak on 20 March 2020.

We remain concerned by the daily increase of Gender based Violence during the Covid-19 lockdown wherein daily cases reported to our members have risen from 15 cases per day to not less than 49 reported cases a day. We remain concerned at the lack of the large scale government led and coordinated approach to respond to Gender Based Violence.

We highlight that the failure to also ensure mandatory sentences for Gender Based Violence leave women vulnerable. If stock theft results in 9 years in jail surely an appropriate deterrent sentencing policy may be adopted and implemented in Zimbabwe.

We further highlight the press reports concerning the Police operations in Mvuma which lay bare the weaknesses of the Covid-19 regulations, the policing practices and the vulnerabilities of women and communities which lie in between.

As long as rural and peri-urban communities do not have access to the ZUPCO bus services they are left to fall within the margins for the law which create the conditions ripe for the reports indicating rent seeking behaviour by enforcement officers. 

We continue to highlight the resumption of local drinking spots and beer halls in rural communities which are operational in violation of the Covid-19 regulations and do not respect the social distancing practices critical to ensure safety in public spaces. We note the rural communities of Tsholotsho, Chivhi, and Mucheke who have community reports of drinking spots which are operating in contrast to Covid-19 regulations.

Critical Emerging Issues

Religious gatherings 

Today we witnessed most religious institutions and churches opening doors to their congregants for Sunday worship. Reports from our grassroots champions and networks, in Mutasa ward 11 and Norton, indicate improved actions towards compliance with public health guidelines and lockdown measures, such as use of face masks and temperature screening. We applaud church leaders and congregants for taking measures to minimize potential spread of the disease within the church; 

  • In the same breadth, we continue to urge all church leaders and congregants to safeguard their health by ensuring strict compliance with the containment laws and public health guidelines.
  • We further urge the development and implementation of clear strategies for enforcing containment measures not only within the church, but throughout all public gatherings.

Price Hikes

We continue to witness worsening economic hardships in communities, both, rural and urban settings due to inflation and the loss of income earning capacity for most households. A visit to the supermarket reveals sharp price hikes of basic commodities such as cooking oil, sugar and flour as the Zimbabwe dollar continues to lose value against the US Dollar. Aware that this situation increases the level of vulnerability of already struggling households, particularly women-led households, which fully rely on the informal economy;

  • We continue to remind Government, of section 77 of the Constitution, which guarantees every person the right to sufficient food, and places an obligation on the State to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.
  • We further urge the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and also the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe to investigate cases of illegal price hikes of basic commodities.
  • Furthermore, we continue to urge the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare to expedite disbursement of food aid and grants to vulnerable communities in a transparent manner, without any political interference

Water and sanitation

Communities continue to face challenges in accessing adequate water and sanitation. We note that this global pandemic requires increased levels of hygiene and in particular, clean and safer portable water. 

We highlight the plight of women in Kwekwe, Gweru, Bulawayo and other surrounding areas who have been placed under phenomenal strain, as they seek to assess water through other alternative means.

We note the confirmation that the diarrheal disease outbreak in Bulawayo has been confirmed to be Typhoid disease outbreak which unfortunately has already claimed the lives of 9 community members;

  • We therefore urge the critical need for the rapid escalation of medium- and long-term water solutions as part of the COVID-19 response actions.
  • We therefore reiterate our demand for a comprehensive national approach and plan to address the chronic and persistent shortages of water in Zimbabwe’s communities
  •  We call upon an increased expedition of operational and administrative responsiveness to communities in crisis not only by the constrained Local Authorities but by central government and its applicable national institutions to ensure that citizens are able to access water.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)