Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 97 WCoZ Situation Report

97 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that as at 4 July 2020, the total number of Covid-19 had increased to 698 after 73 new cases tested positive. 65 new confirmed cases are from returnees, while 8 cases are local transmissions. We note the steady and ongoing rise in local transmissions. We are deeply saddened to note that the death toll has risen to 8, following the death of a 21-year-old female at a facility in Harare. We send our love and prayers to the family and loved ones of the deceased. May her soul rest in peace.

We remain in shock at the non-responsive nature of central government in stepping into the policy spaces to coordinate a large scale comprehensive and coordinated national water plan that appropriately responds the on-going water crisis that has bedevilled Zimbabwe for over 20 years. We note the dire water situation currently obtaining throughout the country, in areas such as Warren Park, Bulawayo and Mkoba Gweru;

We remain confounded by the insistence to undertake a 6 month national roll-out program of water meters across local authorities in Zimbabwe. Privatisation and monetisation of water is not the answer.

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, and Public Works in concert with applicable Ministries and all local authorities in their respective districts, to ensure adequate provision waters, through the urgent escalation and expedition of comprehensive and coherent development and implementation of short and long-term strategies to address the water crisis.

Critical Emerging Issues

Schools and Extra-Lessons during Covid-19

Growing reports from our networks reveal that most pupils are attending private physical extra lessons, especially in Ushewokunze and other surrounding areas. Furthermore, the reports indicate that during the lessons, there is non-compliance with safety protocols and lockdown regulations such as wearing of masks, use of sanitizers and physical distancing. 

The unrelenting pressure to resume the education sector in the face of on-going and persisting widespread opposing public opinion, is taking on a new element as families and learners are facing pressure to “catch up” prior to the formal resumption of schools placing learners in the vulnerable position of engaging in physical lessons that not only breach Covid-19 regulations but place their lives at risk.

  • We reiterate our call to Government to reconsider the reopening of schools especially as local transmission is on the rise and community testing and tracing is weak.
  • We urge communities to ensure strict adherence with public health guidelines in order to curb the potential spread of the disease. 

Mealie Meal Shortages

As the mealie meal shortage challenges continue to worse, information from our networks, reveal how some unscrupulous retailers are now exploiting customers, particularly women in Gweru Mkoba 16, by demanding that in order for them to purchase a bag of subsidized mealie meal at ZWL$160, they should first buy a packet of sugar beans. Those without money to purchase sugar beans, has therefore been deprived of the opportunity to purchase mealie meal, thereby exacerbating the hunger problems communities are currently facing due to the lockdown restrictions and loss of income.

This is not the only report of co-purchases that have been reported we reiterate reports from Manicaland Province and Harare wherein shop owners were demanding the purchase of other goods prior to permitting customers to purchase a bad of the subsidized mealie meal 

  • We therefore urge retailers not to take advantage of the mealie meal shortages in order to rip off customers.
  • We further urge Government to ensure that the maize subsidy reaches all communities.

Lack of Social Distancing 

Distressed with observations indicating heightened lack of social distancing in communities such as Chivi Ward 21 and ZUPCO buses. Reports from Chinhoyi and Marondera reveal overcrowding in ZUPCO buses, to the extent of carrying standing passengers. The reports continue to show lack of sanitization and temperature checks;

  • We recommend strict enforcement of the public health guidelines and lockdown restrictions.
  • We further urge businesses and communities to comply with the lockdown restrictions in order to flatten the curve on the rate of Covid-19 Transmission.  

Outstanding issues

Parliament to conduct more public hearings

Parliament has once again announced that it will be conducting physical public hearings throughout the country, on the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill from 6 July to 10 July 2020. While we commend the measures which the institution has put in place, in ensuring that public safety

  • We urge Parliament to walk the talk ensure strict compliance with the said measures. This draws from lessons learnt during the public hearings for the Constitution Amendment Bill 2, where we witnessed groups over 50 participants being consulted huddled together in one gathering thereby violating the lockdown regulations, and exposing communities to the risk of Covid-19 transmission
  • We further raise concern over the timing of these hearings given the fact that movement restrictions continue to be in force. This presents mobility challenges for citizens who may wish to access the venue. Again, this draws from the experiences of Constitution Amendment Bill 2, as witnessed in Gwanda and Bulawayo, where some women failed to access the venues after they were turned away by the enforcement agents at roadblocks. 

Policy inconsistencies

We remain concerned with the numerous shifts on policy positions which were articulated in statutory Instruments, without following the due process of the law. We remain concerned that the Statutory Instruments on the resumption of operations require mandatory 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 note that 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. 

  • We therefore buttress our calls upon Government to revise and update all the applicable Statutory Instruments regarding Covid-19, in order to inform the citizens accordingly.
  • We continue to 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.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe