Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 199 – WCoZ Situation Report

199 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 14 October 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 055, after 19 new cases were reported with 18 local cases and 1 imported case from Namibia. Active cases went up by 10 cases from yesterday to 184. A total of 8 new recoveries were recorded. The total number of recoveries stands at 7 640. The death toll has gone up to 231 after 1 death was recorded today. 

We highlight, with concern, reports from our networks in rural communities, which indicate an increased level of shunning of face mask wearing. We note the negative messages that communities are directing towards mask wearers, labelling them as disrespectful and/or of acting as if the rest of the community is disgusting by wearing masks and/or of treating those around them as less than human by wearing masks around them. We condemn these messages and urge Government, Faith Based Organisations, Traditional Leaders and all those working in these areas to accurately inform communities of the COVID-19 pandemic to step up the messaging which is facing real time challenges due to reported lower statistics of the pandemic in the country and the rapid resumption of all socio-economic activities. 

We, accordingly, also throw light upon low mask-wearing practices in residential communities across the country. We note further, that these trends reflect relaxed attitudes towards the pandemic and a belief that the worst is over. We urge communities to remain vigilant and continue to practice the highest levels of mask-wearing, particularly as we note the real-time constraints in public spaces of adhering to social distancing. We urge the frequent washing of hands and/or the use of sanitizers.

Emerging Critical Issues

By-elections suspension and the selective application of the law 

We note that the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show has been scheduled for 28-31 October 2020. We are aware that the Show, by its nature, draws the attendance of hundreds of persons. 

We also note that Parliament is currently conducting nationwide physical consultative meetings on the 2021 National Budget. It is with these issues in mind, that we struggle to comprehend the rationale behind the Government’s indefinite suspension of by-elections.  

  • We reinforce our calls upon Government to create inclusive multi-stakeholder spaces for ongoing dialogue and collaboration which will lead to the holding of COVID-19 compliant by-elections to enable citizens to peacefully exercise their constitutionally enshrined political rights and cease from enacting statutory instruments that undermine the spirit and letter of the Constitution.

Outstanding issues 

Community mass testing

While noting a decline in activities, we recognize the need for an advanced testing strategy which ensures community mass testing and contact tracing. In the absence of mass community testing and public accounting for local transmission case-tracing, it is impossible to determine the appropriate reflection of the COVID-19 pandemic prevalence in Zimbabwe.

  • We call for increased testing and the ramping up of access to testing kits and consumables for Zimbabwe. 
  • We therefore recommend that the Government provide a clear plan of action to maintaining vigilance on COVID-19 in testing tracing and treatment for the current period until mid-year 2021.
  • We further reinforce our call for an advanced testing strategy in the public sector and urge Government to update the Nation on the progress of testing of all members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, and all lockdown enforcement officers.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe