Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 118 – WCoZ Situation Report

118 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that, as at 24 July 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 2 296 after 172 new cases tested positive, of which 152 are local transmissions. Cumulative recoveries are now at 514 cases. The death toll currently stands at 32, following 4 deaths recorded yesterday in Bulawayo, Harare and Midlands. 

We continue to note with great distress the leadership crisis currently obtaining in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, which is the most critical institution towards the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.  This is nerve-wrecking, particularly at a time when the nation is experiencing an unparalleled spike in COVID-19 local transmission cases. A time like this requires real leadership to make tough decisions which will go a long way in flattening the curve.  We urge the prioritisation on filling up the critical vacancies within the Ministry of Health and Child-Care. 

Critical Emerging Issues 

Public hospitals

Reports suggest that hospitals could have become the epicentre of COVID-19. Latest reports reveal that approximately 70 staff members at Parirenyatwa Hospital, tested positive of COVID-19 virus. This comes barely a month after over 30 health personnel at Mpilo and UBH tested positive for COVID-19. 

  • We recommend actions to intensify and ensuring mandatory COVID-19 testing routine at all public hospitals.
  • We further urge the safeguarding of all frontline workers, by ensuring among other things, provision of adequate PPE.  

Religious gatherings and funerals

While there has been disharmony and inconsistency in terms of the lockdown position on religious gatherings, reports reveal non-compliance with COVID-19 regulations, by certain religious sects. The same reports have also been noted by our networks regarding funerals, where there is non-compliance with public health guidelines such as physical distancing and use of hand sanitizers.  

  • We continue to urge church leaders to safeguard their congregants 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 religious gatherings.

Outstanding issue

Curfew and harassment by enforcement officers

Reports from our networks in Harare indicate the use of force by the enforcing agents in ensuring compliance with the 6pm curfew put in place in Government.  

Reports reveal that some citizens who had been queuing for the scarce ZUPCO, in the CBD, were harassed and beaten by the enforcement agents, for failing to take heed of the curfew. Deeply distressed that reports indicate commuters walked over 20kms in the dark to reach their homes in response to the fear of being caught on the wrong side of the curfew despite having been waiting for the limited public transport for over 4 hours. 

Distressed by the undue risk that women face in such circumstances due to gaps within policy, law and practice. 

Noting that the challenges commuters are facing in accessing ZUPCO and navigating their way home:

  • We urge Government to revisit its decision on the curfew times in direct response to the State capacity to provide state transport to the commuting public.
  • We urge the enforcement agents to operate within the parameters of the law, and treat citizens with respect and full respect of their rights as espoused in the Bill of Rights. 
  • In the same vein, we call upon the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to stand ready to protect the rights of citizens in these difficult times and ensure that decisions on curfew clearly correspond with the reality and challenges citizens are currently facing, particularly in the public transport sector.
  • We call upon the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission to utilise their full mandate to address the gaps in law, policy and practice that are eroding rights and undermining efforts of social cohesion during a critical point in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe