Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 94 WCoZ Situation Report

94 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that as at 1 July 2020, the total number of Covid-19 had increased to 605 after 14 new cases tested positive. 13 new confirmed cases are local cases, while 1 case is a returnee from South Africa.

Zimbabwe is clearly facing a steady and consistent rise in local transmission cases. Accordingly, measures to build  public confidence regarding readiness and proactive managing of the spread of Covid-19, on the cusp of the mass resumption of the education sector and on the eve of further relaxation of tourism and public entertainment centres, communication and engagement with the public on this matter must increase.

  • We call upon the government to give a long outstanding report on the tracing of contacts of all the local transmission cases thus far and to appropriately inform the applicable communities. 

The approach proposed above, is critical to ensure stronger adherence to social distancing, mandatory mask wearing and contextualized implementation of lockdown regulations to safeguard communities.

Further, whilst we acknowledge the fact that the testing prioritisation has been directed to mandatory quarantine and isolation centres we remain deeply distressed concerned at limited testing to communities broadly.

We note the Cabinet decision has been made to ensure that persons testing positive for Covid-19 from both public and private health centres will be required to isolate in one centre, we remain concerned in regard to the tracing that supports the trace, test and treat strategy being implemented. 

  • We remain concerned that the consolidated test conducted by the private sector who have resumed operations are not being reported in the Ministry of Health and Child Care figures.
  • We call for an advanced test strategy which ensures community mass testing and also in the Public sector.

We remain concerned that the Statutory Instruments on the resumption of operations requires testing of employees upon opening and once every 14 days, yet the Minister of Health and Child Care verbally announced that testing can be conducted upon opening and once every 30 days.

  • We call upon Government to revise all the applicable Statutory Instruments regarding Covid-19, in order to update the regulations accordingly,
  • We encourage the Government to desist from the emerging state practice to govern by announcements and not by law.

We urge the Parliament of Zimbabwe to exercise its full mandate on the raft of Covid-19 measures to ensure coherence, compliance and consistently by the executive in this regard

Critical Emerging Issues

Water and Sanitation

Remaining concerned with the dire water situation currently obtaining throughout the country, in areas such as Warren Park, Bulawayo and Mkoba Gweru;

Noting that water is a universal human right, guaranteed by the Supreme law of the land; 

  • We reinforce our calls upon the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, and all local authorities in their respective districts, to ensure adequate provision water, through the urgent escalation and expedition of the implementation of short and long-term strategies.

  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

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

Concerned such non-adherence may be the contributing factor to the increase in community transmission cases;

  • 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.

Relaxation of lockdown regulations on the Tourism Sector 

We note the partial relaxation of the tourism sectors lockdown regulations beginning today.

We note the fact that the hospitality sector requires support for dining services. We note the remaining restrictions on inter-city and inter-provincial travel.  However remain vigilant on the adoption of concrete measures to stem the rise of the cases in the hospitality sector,

  • We remain vigilant on the adherence of safety measures in such  spaces.
  • We warn that Zimbabwe is not out of the woods. We are facing a steady increase in cases and have entered the winter seasons where respiratory infections are part of the risks element to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Legally we remain concerned at the shifts in policy positions which were articulated in statutory instrument which are not being addressed or cancelled via the same legal mechanisms. 

This is a weak governance practice which creates an environment that opens citizens to abuse to inconsistent enforcement and opportunities of rent seeking by enforcement officers.

Outstanding Issues

Price Hikes and delay in implementation of social protection measures

We note the distribution of 600 bags of mealie meal by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in Mbire today. We remain concerned that the targeted program to support vulnerable households left 4 out of 5 targeted persons out in the cold. 

We contribute to remain concerned at the limited reach of the urban food security programs that seek to address rising hunger in urban communities who resilience capacities remain threatened by the restrictions on trade and commerce. The rise of basic goods and services is shocking in light of depressed incomes of the public and the effect of hyperinflation on the local currency.

Aware that this situation increases the level of vulnerability of already struggling household’s 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