Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 93 WCoZ Situation Report

93 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that as at 30 June 2020, the total number of Covid-19 had increased 591, after 17 new cases tested positive including 3 local transmission cases.

We remain deeply concerned that the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare has continued not to address the public demands to report on the tracing team’s progress on all local transmission cases. Continued failure by the Ministry to do so, is not only a weak governance practice but also risk weakening the very goals the public heath measures being undertaken by the Government at this time. Citizen’s cooperation is best secured through transparency and accountability and this will be critical as cases of the Covid-19 continue on an upward trajectory.

Deeply concerned that 5 members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police have tested positive for Covid-19 and the potential implications of enforcement workers, whom we raised previously as not adhering to face masks wearing and social distancing the in the execution of the duties. 

We call upon the relevant authorities to ensure enforcement officer lead in adhering the Covid-19 safety regulations they seek to enforce. 

Critical Emerging Issues

Relaxation on adherence to public health guidelines

We continue to note a general trend, throughout communities, businesses and public spaces, indicating a relaxation in observing social distancing, use of face masks and sanitizers.

We raise concerns regarding residential communities across the country wherein the informal sector has taken refuge with increased trade occurring at household premises and informal community centres with rampant reports of no usage of face masks and no social distancing measures being utilized. 

Further noting that the same trends have been observed within the public transport system;

Concerned that failure to adequately observe social and physical distancing may erode all the gains recorded so far in the Covid-19 battle;

  • We remind the general populace on the need to fortify their efforts in maintaining both social and physical distancing, in every environment which may include work, public transport or supermarkets.

Education

The ZIMSEC June examinations commenced today, with most pupils raising concern over the last-minute changes regarding examination centres. 

Schools which were used as Covid-19 Centres are not being used as exam centres. 

Reports indicate that some pupils who did not receive information on the changes, faced challenges in accessing the new exam venues on time,

We continue to query the education sector’s readiness in ensuring that students and staff are not exposed to Covid-19. Reports indicate that certain traditional exam centres, schools, will not be used as exams centres as they are currently being utilised as quarantine and isolation centres.

  • We await the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Guidance on ensuring the following: 
  1. All learners and teachers are to be tested prior to commencement of lessons,
  2. Measures have to be put in place for those in boarding school to ensure social distancing of learners in their day to day lives,
  3.  Measures put in place to ensure that the staff and other day-scholars, from the outside world do not carry the virus to the school premises. 

We applaud the Zimbabwe Junior Parliament that has undertaken a sterling presentation before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education on preparedness of schools to resume at the end of this month. We await the engagement of the Minister and the applicable members of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to address the concerns being well articulated and amplified by the junior representatives. 

We note the Joint statement by a large cross section of the National Teachers Unions on this matter and urge the Government of Zimbabwe not to steamroll the citizenry in reopening schools against strong public sentiment.

Outstanding Issues

Accountability and transparency in distribution and procurement to Covid-19 supplies

Reports reveal lack of resources for the rehabilitation of the Thorngrove and Ekusileni hospitals in Bulawayo, which were set to admit and cater for Covid-19 patients. This is worrying especially given the numerous donations and resources reported to have been mobilised towards the Covid-19 response. We emphasize that it is the responsibility of Government to ensure that institutions are capacitated enough to respond to Covid-19;

  • We therefore urge transparency regarding expenditure towards the Covid-19 response. 
  • Furthermore, we continue to call for the publication for the distribution matrix of Covid-19 supplies to ensure that the highest standards of good governance, accountability and transparency.

Indeed, such publication will assure communities, and the public at large the level of readiness that the health sector to be ready to handle potential incoming cases of positive Covid-19 cases.

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

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe