Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report: 17 April 2020 – Day 19

Introduction

On day 19 of the National Lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on 27 March 2020 followed by the gazetting of SI 83 of 2020 Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) on 28 March 2020, official statistics by the Ministry of Health and Child Care indicated that COVID-19 confirmed cases had increased to twenty-four (24), whilst the number of deaths relating to COVID-19 remained at three (3). The cumulative tests conducted is two thousand four hundred and ninety-three (2 493) of which two thousand four hundred and sixty-nine (2 469) were negative.

Methodology

This report encompasses reports covering the 10 provinces of the country through reports received from the following Forum Members: Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP); Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA); Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR); Counselling Services Unit (CSU); Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, (ZADHR); Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights)

General Atmosphere

In Mazowe, most farmworkers were working without protective clothing and not observing social distancing. It was reported that after work, farmworkers gather at beer halls socialising and drinking alcohol without taking note of social distancing. There is need for an awareness-raising campaign in farms to educate community members on COVID-19. Access to supplies has been a challenge. In Chiwororo and Nyachuru villages in Mazowe, community members are worried due to the ever-increasing prices of basic commodities. Some shop owners have resorted to selling their products in USD only which has affected community members.

In Chitungwiza, a large group of people were crowded at GAIN wholesalers waiting for a chance to buy the subsidized roller meal which is selling for ZWL 70 for a 10kg bag as compared to a similar bag of super refined mealie meal going ZWL 290. The people were not maintaining social distancing in this incident. At Mbare farmers market, the number of people at the market is increasing daily making it difficult for authorities to enforce social distance. Vendors have also started selling various farm products at the open grounds at Rufaro Stadium. Youths were also seen playing a game of soccer with a large crowd watching the match at the open field near Magaba flats.

In Plumtree, 278 deportees from Botswana were taken to Plumtree High School in ZUPCO buses and some trucks. The 278 deportees joined over other 400 deportees from Botswana who are also initially quarantined at Plumtree High School before some of them were moved to Bulawayo.

In Bubi, ZANU PF councillor Eden Ncube was seen distributing rice to ZANU PF supporters only. It was reported that the councillor was requesting to see a ZANU PF party card from individuals who were queuing for social welfare food aid. Those without ZANU PF party cards did not benefit from the food aid.

In Chivi, Caritas Zimbabwe distributed food aid at Nyamakwe business centre. Social distance was observed during the food aid distribution. Similarly, in Bikita, there was social welfare food distribution. Police officers were present during the distribution to ensure that community members adhered to social distance.

In Gweru tractors were seen spraying disinfectants at Makanda business centre, and areas in Mkoba 14.

Assaults

In Bindura, soldiers assaulted a man with baton sticks and sjamboks at Chipadze vegetable market near Chipadze stadium for defying the lockdown and loitering after he reportedly failed to explain his movements. When the victim went to Chipadze police station to report the incident, police officers at the station refused to open a docket. The victim therefore did not receive medical attention as police reports are a prerequisite in such cases. The victim sustained a broken right arm as a result of the assault.

Arrests

In Gweru, ZRP officers arrested eleven (11) people for loitering at CIMRAC supermarket. The arrested persons were taken to Gweru central police station and where they were detained for 45 minutes and later released without charges.

Summary of Violations

The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March 2020 to 16 April 2020.

Nature of ViolationNumber of VictimsLocation
Assault164Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita
Attack on Journalists12Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo
Arrests194Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita
Malicious Damage to Property1Harare

Court Update

The hearing of the urgent application filed by MISA Zimbabwe and Pananshe Miche, seeking an order to stop Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and other enforcement officers from harassing or interfering with journalists during the national lockdown, will continue on Monday20 April 2020. Harare High Court Judge Jacob Manzunzu deferred proceedings to allow the Applicants to respond to avermenents by the State that only journalist from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation were essential service and the rest were not.

Conclusion

The Forum calls upon the government to investigate these cases and ensure that all community members benefit from food aid. In light of increasing positive COVID-19 cases, the Forum calls upon community members to adhere to the lockdown and the required social distancing. It is imperative for citizens to exercise the highest possible standards of hygiene as a way of taking personal responsibility in fighting the pandemic.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)

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