The Harare Residents’ Trust continues to monitor the situation in Harare suburbs during the lockdown. Level two which was declared by the president on 12 June 2020 is continuing. The president has however indicated that the recent spike in cases and deaths calls for a review of the nation’s lockdown measures. The opening of schools which was scheduled for 28 July has been deferred. As the HRT keeps track of events taking place during the lockdown, key areas of monitoring include water delivery, citizens’ awareness of the coronavirus, responsiveness of council officials on citizens’ reports, lockdown enforcement by City and State security officials (human rights approach), refuse collections, compliance with lockdown regulations on people’s movement. This situational update highlights the situation on water, health, people’s movement and awareness of Covid-19, food security, the transport situation, availability of fuel around Harare and some other updates.
Most suburbs in the Harare Metropolitan Province spent the week without tap water. Communities such as Mabvuku, Tafara, Budiriro 1 and 2 and Chitungwiza Unit K and L did not receive water last week. Glenview 3 continued to receive water once a week. Water was available on Saturday after 11pm and by 6pm the following day tap water had ran out.
Residents in Rugare did not have water from Wednesday morning up to Friday evening. The Glenview 2 community had tap water from Tuesday up to Friday evening. From Friday up to the time of writing this update, they do not have water. In Kuwadzana 6 residents spent the weekend without tap water. They did not have water from Friday up to Monday 13 July.
Water was available for most of the week in Highfields Paradise. The community received water every day and experienced daily water cuts for a few hours. In ward 12 Mbare, residents also reported that they had tap water every day. Water cuts were experienced during evenings only. The situation in suburbs such as Mabvuku, Tafara and Budiriro is threatening to thwart the efforts being made to contain the spreading of Covid-19. Residents are queueing at community water points where social distancing is ignored. Most of the boreholes in communities and the people queueing for water are not being sanitised. Borehole committees have ran out of chemicals which were donated by international donor agencies. The community borehole in Glenview 3 is now drying up and long winding queues can be seen from as early as 7am to 7pm.
Covid-19 cases in the country increased drastically during the past week. On Friday 10 July 2020, The Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that confirmed cases had risen to 942 (Nine hundred and forty-two). On Tuesday 14 July, cases had jumped to 1064 (One thousand and sixty-four). Most clinics are operating but they do not have essential drugs. Nurses at Kambuzuma poly clinic and the council clinic in Highfields Paradise were reported to be on a go slow last week. Patients were being referred to bigger Hospitals such as Parirenyatwa and Harare Central Hospital. Residents from Glen Norah expressed their disappointment with the way the incinerator at Utsanana clinic is being handled. They indicated that the incinerator is polluting surrounding areas with a very bad odour. It was also reported that a dead body of a baby was found in the neighbourhood and officials from the clinic just put in a plastic and dumped it in the incinerator.
Movement and awareness of Covid-19
During the past week, people in the Harare Metropolitan Province did not face too much problems in terms of movement. Police roadblocks had reduced their levels of strictness. By Saturday morning, the number of roadblocks in Harare had been reduced. Roadblocks such as the Coca Cola and Flyover roadblocks in Seke road and the police checkpoint in Braeside Chiremba road were removed. The remaining checkpoints have relaxed and most vehicles are passing through without examination. This has seen an increase in the number of people moving to and from the Central Business District. Unemployed people without exemption letters are now flocking into the CBD, which is increasing the risk of more local transmissions of Covid-19. All this is happening despite the official statement from the president’s office that the current lockdown restrictions are being tightened. On awareness, people are generally aware of the disease. However, the informal nature of the economy means that the majority of the citizenry cannot afford to stay home. They survive on hand to mouth work. The water situation in Harare is still forcing people to move around in search of water.
Food insecurity remains an issue in Harare. Prices are increasing on a weekly basis following the rate set by the Central Bank’s weekly auction system. A 10kg packet of mealie-meal costs US$5.00. When converted to local currency, it costs around ZWL$350.00. However, residents from Mbare and Kuwadzana indicated that local shops are now selling mealie meal in USD only. Other basic commodities have gone beyond the reach of many as well. 2kg sugar is now costing an average of ZWL$230.00 and cooking oil is at ZWL$360.00. Government subsidised mealie-meal was not available in most suburbs during the past week.
The transport situation in Harare remains a problem and a threat to residents’ lives. The government still maintains its ban on private transport operators. This is despite the fact that ZUPCO is nowhere near the required standard to make sure that commuters travel without too much hassles. Commuters are spending much of their time on the roads. People have to wait for hours at bus terminuses before and after work. The majority has resorted to hiking private small vehicles. However, this does not well with the recent spike in Covid-19 local transmission cases. The disease is likely to spread at the crowded terminuses and in the packed private vehicles. The banned commuter omnibuses are slowly getting back to the roads. Most have removed identification plates and are using routes which enable them to evade police checkpoints. However, they are starting to bribe the police and are now moving freely in some locations. Such is the case with commuter omnibuses which ply the Epworth-Mbare route.
Fuel is still a problem for most motorists. Prices are in ZWL$ and USD. ZWL$ fuel is cheaper and very scarce. USD fuel is readily available at fuel stations but it is not affordable for the majority of motorists. This has resulted in long winding queues at stations selling in local currency. Reports received from the Highfields Paradise community indicated that last week police officials were moving around confiscating vendors’ stock. They were mainly targeting foodstuffs.
The Harare City Council is still struggling to provide adequate water supplies for its residents. Most suburbs across Harare spent the past week without water. Wells dried up some time ago, and boreholes are beginning to dry up as well. This has increased congestion at the few
operating community water points. The situation threatens to fuel up local transmission of Covid-19 cases and calls for swift action from the Harare City Council. The number of food insecure
people is increasing every week as prices continue to rise. Government subsidised products are barely available on the market. Transport shortages are also threatening to undo the effort and measures being made to contain the spreading of Covid-19. The government needs to act on the issue and come up with a solution that will save people’s lives.
Next Update – Wednesday, 22 July 2020.
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Source: Harare Residents Trust