Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 125 – WCoZ Situation Report

125 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that, as at 31 July 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 3 169 after 77 cases tested positive, of which 67 are local transmissions. The death toll has risen to 67.

We continue to call upon the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure that it provides as public information the gender and demographic disaggregation data on daily updates. Whilst we note the gender disaggregation on daily cases, in particular deaths, we call upon the Ministry to provide to the nation and public analysis of the nature of the pandemic in the population who have fallen unwell and provide and picture of the overall scene of ill persons 125 days into the Zimbabwean pandemic. Zimbabwe therefore cannot confidently respond to whether we have sporadic local transmission or clustering local transmission or community transmission as defined by the WHO. We urge Government to fully recognise the need for adequate information regarding the cases and deaths recorded by the Ministry to the public as is standard across the globe to inform the appropriate responses and actions to be taken by various stakeholders and communities.

We continue to note reports of persons under the essential services category, being turned away and or harassed by armed forces, particularly in Kwekwe. Meanwhile, there has been no indication by Government that the existing COVID-19 regulations have been suspended and that all persons including those in exempted categories were not to attempt to report for duty, even today. The conflicting messages given to the public expose contradiction in law and policy that do not indicate State interventions designed to address the pandemic.

Critical Emerging Issues

Report on Education and Radio Lessons

While it has been over 2 months since the roll out of school lessons through radio and other virtual platforms, we continue to raise concern on the widening equality gap amongst pupils, particularly in relation to female pupils, rural  and pupils from marginalised communities with no  or  limited access to electricity, internet connectivity or radio reception. 

Of concern, is the plight of the girl-child and the extending burden of unpaid care-work in light of COVID-19, worsened by the fact that the girl child is currently spending more time at home than in school.  Secondly, as we have reiterated over and over again, the majority of rural pupils do not have access to radio and virtual platforms.

  • We therefore request a report on the progression of radio and virtual lessons.
  • We further recommend setting in place monitoring and evaluation strategies to measure the success and practicability of the radio programme and virtual lessons initiative.
  • We further recommend that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education continuously collect disaggregated data and update the Nation on pupils’ access and attendance to the radio lessons.
  • The data must be gender disaggregated, in order to ensure that girls attend the lessons, and are not consumed with the burden of unpaid care-work, within the household.

Water and Sanitation

The dire situation on water shortages has continued to force women to access the water from unsafe sources, exposing them to multiple health hazards. Our networks throughout the country, have reported lack of sustainable means to access water, due to rationing schemes by Councils. While in April, the High Court of Zimbabwe made a ruling on ensuring access to water by residents, there has been little compliance with the judgement.

While initiatives such as bowser water delivery only provide temporary relief, such measures are not the panacea to the problem as they are unsustainable in the long run.

  • It is recommended that the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, and all local authorities in their respective districts, ensure adequate provision water, through the implementation of short and long-term strategies.
  • We further urge the critical need for the rapid escalation of medium- and long-term water solutions as part of the COVID-19 response actions.

Update on the state of preparedness

We remain alarmed at the failure to address the readiness of the health care centres in particular the issues pertaining to strengthening the capacity of the health care centres to handle the inevitable increased cases of patients requiring hospitalisation and high-level care support. Above and beyond the extensive leadership crisis in the public health sector the Zimbabwean public continues to be unaware of the;

  • number of hospital beds are actually available in the country.
  • number of hospital beds ready to take care of the patients in need of high-quality care including ventilation support.
  • health care centres, across the 10 provinces have the capacity to actually take in patients.
  • ratio of PPEs to health care personnel currently obtaining.
  • actual number of health care workers who can be adequately covered by PPEs whilst on duty.
  • level of medical stocks in the country against the increasing disease burden.
  • point of resolution of the wide spread industrial action across the sector.

In the absence of such public information, the public therefore is forced to makes assessment of state capacity and state intention based on their individual and collective experiences and knowledge through which the Government losses substantive space to engage progressively in the public policy domain.

We therefore urge Government to constantly engage and update the Nation on progress being realised regards state of readiness to respond to COVID-19.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe