Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report: 19 April 2020 – Day 21

Introduction

On day 21 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-five (25), whilst the number of deaths relating to COVID-19 remained at three (3). The cumulative tests conducted is two thousand six hundred and twenty-six (2 851) of which two thousand six hundred and one (2 826) were negative.

On day 21 of the lockdown, President Mnangagwa extended the COVID-19 national lockdown to May 3 as part of the Government’s response to the rising number of cases in the country. Addressing the nation President Mnangagwa indicated that the country has not yet met the conditions for lifting the lockdown that were set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) among which are the capacity by the health system to test, isolate, treat and trace every contact. The announcement was immediately followed by the gazetting of SI 93 of 2020 – Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Amendment) Order, 2020 (No. 3).

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

Harare City Council deployed a water tanker to Epworth as part of its measures to facilitate potable water for citizens who had gone for weeks without receiving water. However, community members were not exercising social distancing in the water queues. In streets around Epworth, minors were loitering whilst residents were jostling in food queues at major shopping centres.

In Mbare, Harare city council employees continued with the destruction of vending stalls and informal shops near Rufaro stadium, Magaba informal market and the open space near Shawasha. The demolitions attracted scores of people who were not observing social distance. Similarly, Harare city council officers also destroyed vending stalls in Highfields at Machipisa shopping centre.

In Warren Park, it was reported that ZRP officers soldiers were harassing people at Mereki shopping centre and other parts of Warren Park D for allegedly defying the lockdown by loitering. Reports indicate that army trucks with armed soldiers were also seen patrolling the streets in the area.

It was reported that long queues for mealie-meal were observed at OK supermarket in Kwekwe. It was further reported that ZRP officers had a separate queue though it was noted that some of the police officers were hoarding groceries for resale.

In Magwegwe in Bulawayo, there were scores of people who were standing in mealie meal queues. It was reported that people were not observing social distance as some were even shaking hands. It was also reported that shops had increased the price of subsidized mealie meal from ZWL 70 to ZWL 150. In Pumula, residents were not exercising social distance at community boreholes.

In Zvimba, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi was at Gangararwe hospital near Murombedzi growth point. It was reported that the minister made donations of sanitisers and other medical sundries that were branded with ZANU PF stickers and logos.

Arrests

In Mutasa, three (3) people were arrested and taken to Mutasa police station for loitering. It was reported that the victims were on their way to POTE supermarket to buy groceries when four (4) police officers confronted them and instructed them to board a white Toyota Hilux together with 3 armed soldiers. The arrested persons were released after paying ZWL 200 fine.

In Gweru, two (2) people were arrested at Mkoba shopping centre in the morning for allegedly disturbing the peace at Choppies Supermarket. The two were allegedly arrested after complaining when some 3 police officers in plainclothes attempted to jump the queue. In a surprise twist of events, the two were then arrested and taken to Mkoba police station where they were later released after paying an admission of guilt fine of ZWL500.

Assaults

In Zvishavane, it was reported that ZRP officers assaulted five (5) people using rifle butts and baton sticks in the Maglass area. It was reported that the 5 people were part of a large group of community members who were buying groceries. Police officers indiscriminately started assaulting people for defying the social distance policy in the queue.

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
Assault172Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane
Attack on Journalists12Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo
Arrests199Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa
Malicious Damage to Property1Harare

Legal Matters

The High Court in Harare is expected to hear two matters on COVID-19 cases. Justice Joseph Mafusire will hear a matter filed by the Centre for Disability and Development, Deaf Zimbabwe Trust and Zimbabwe National League of The Blind in which the applicants are arguing that the rights of persons with disabilities have been infringed and continue to be infringed by government and ZBC during this public health emergency crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The parties have submitted that there is a lack of access to information in a format that is accessible to persons with disabilities, notably Deaf and Hard of Hearing people and the blind and partially sighted persons. ZBC, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Hon. Monica Mutsvangwa, Health and Child Care Minister Hon. Obadiah Moyo and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Hon. Paul Mavima have been cited as respondents to the application.

The other matter is an application filed by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe seeking an order compelling the government to publish and disseminate with immediate effect information on the private and public testing and treatment centres at national, provincial and district hospitals allocated for dealing with COVID-19 cases. The Minister of Health and Child Care, Obediah Moyo, and Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, are cited as first and second respondents respectively.

Conclusion

In light of increasing positive COVID-19 cases, the Forum calls upon community members to adhere to the lockdown and the required social distancing. Citizens must 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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