Today marks the 16th Day of the Lockdown in Zimbabwe, and the nation continues to put hands together in fighting further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic 5 Days before the lockdown is scheduled to end.
We note the widening of the case definition of COVID-19 and the testing criteria in the health sector as announced the Ministry of Health and Child Care;
- However, emphasizing that transparency and honesty is critical and such pronouncements should be supported with demonstrable steps to ensure implementation of the National COVID-19 Response Plan to the highest standards.
- Gravely concerned of reports of potential COVID-19 patients who have been denied access to tests whilst presenting with influenza-like symptoms despite contacting the Rapid Response teams today.
We note that the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has issued as per their commitment the Schedule for mealie meal deliveries.
- However we await to see the full implementation of the mealie meal delivery system by GMAZ its partners the Retail Association of the Zimbabwe and critically the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
- We anticipate that the commitment to ensure the highest standards of sanitisation and social distancing protocols are upheld by the triumvirate in the delivery program.
- We remind the Government and its partners the Right to Food is not only in a right in substance but also a right to the administrative and procedural mechanisms that underpin the delivery of that right.
Critical Emerging Issues
As of 14th April 2020, we have noted the following critical emerging issues that require urgent redress:
1. Use of violence by enforcement officers
We remain deeply concerned with reports indicating Police and Army brutality against citizens. Communications from our networks in Mutare, Norton and Zengeza, and other media platforms indicate that the enforcement agents, have in some circumstances demanded bribe in order to grant travel passes to citizens. These actions threaten the very core of constitutionalism and respect for fundamental human rights.
- We therefore urge the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to operate within the parameters of the law.
- Citizens who are found in contravention of any law should not be subjected to any inhuman or degrading punishment. It is not for the Army or the Police to decide on the form of punishment to be inflicted on the offender. Rather the law must simply take its course.
- Once again, we call upon the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission enjoined with Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to exercise their human rights to investigate the violations of citizens’ rights and the respect of human rights during the enforcement of the lockdown.
- We also call upon Parliament of Zimbabwe, even in adjournment, to sleep with one eye open and protect the Constitution and promote democratic governance in this global emergency.
- Parliament of Zimbabwe is called upon to facilitate the enactment of Section 210 of the Constitution to ensure an Independent Complaints Mechanism is established in Zimbabwe.
1. Restrictions in accessing health care services
Recognising the critical need to continue with the provision of COVID-19 non related health services during the lockdown;
Aware of the danger that in global emergencies such as this one, certain services and rights may be neglected;
Understanding that the right to health remains a constitutional and fundamental right, even in the face of any humanitarian situation;
Concerned by reports of communities failing to access health services particularly in areas such as Kariba Nyamhunga Clinic, Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe and Marondera;
- We continue to call for special attention of Government to ensure uninterrupted accessibility and provision of
2. Gender Based Violence cases on the rise – Reports
We continue to amplify the crisis of gender-based violence that is ripping through our communities during the lockdown and putting the lives of women at risk.
We call upon Government to realise the crisis of the 11 days of lockdown that has resulted in 764 reported cases.
It is problematic that the national GBV responsiveness and readiness systems rests on Civil Society Actors and that government has not taken the lead in providing GBV services.
- We call upon government to step up its support to address the crisis of the domestic violence during this lockdown with stronger measures driven by the state to stop the violence:
- We re-emphasize that GBV responsiveness is critical within the COVID 19 Pandemic and recommend the proactiveness of Government by undertaking the following;
- All GBV shelters to be designated as essential services, to be manned and provide services during this period whilst respecting rules of sanitisation, self-isolation and social distancing.
- The development of the GBV hotline to compliment the COVID-19 ‘2019’ hotline.
3. Disregarding of Social Distance at Communal Drinking Spots, Skokiana and “Shebeens”
Noting reports of citizens who continue to defy social distancing and other containment measures. Our networks report the following cases of non-adherence to social distancing:
- Seke Rural, Gutu and Manhanha area, there is a problem of social distancing at community drinking spots, skokiana areas and sprouting shebeens.
- In Warren Park, revellers enjoying beer gathered in groups at open spaces.
We therefore urge communities to cooperate in exercising social distancing guidelines and upholding the law on containment of COVID-19.
We further urge, the Government, media, private players and civil society organisations to continue to disseminate information on COVID-19, the lockdown and the law on containment of COVID-19.
4. After the 21-day lockdown
It still remains a cause for concern that the nation has commenced the final week of the lockdown,
Noting that Government has not yet communicated its position and preparedness for the possibility that Zimbabwe may experience a surge prior to the end of the lockdown and or Post the Lockdown Period;
We reiterate our calls for the articulation of the national plan and roadmap to stopping the spread of the disease aftermath of the lockdown.
This SITREP is develop by and through the collective network of organisational and individual members of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe who are engaged at community levels to national levels in the COVID19 Zimbabwe response.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)