Today marks the 21st Day of the Lockdown in Zimbabwe, which also could have been the last day of the lockdown. However, today, Government announced a 14 day extension to the Lockdown. As predicted and warned against, in our previous reports, Government has given into the temptation to announce a lockdown extension on the eve upon which Citizens are preparing to resume their day to day lives. Once again this has left many citizens without the opportunity and capacities to strengthen their own preparedness.
While this 14 Day extension would go a long way in containing the spread of COVID-19, we reiterate our calls that such an initiative must be supported with widely decentralized and strengthened health centres that are adequately equipped for mass testing and vigorous tracing mechanisms. This extension therefore must be carefully utilised to realise maximum results in responding to the pandemic.
Welcoming the reprieve in favour of the Mining and Manufacturing industries so as to boost the economy, it is worrying to note that the practical measures pertaining to the public transport have not been adequately addressed. This raises too many questions, and may lead to conjecture and abuse. Noting efforts to build a strong public health system, we remind policy-makers that a strong public health system can and should co-exist with a strong economic framework that provides significant social protection to vulnerable groups of society and citizens in general.
We continue to call the attention of Government to the following:
1. Politicisation of social protection programs
We continue to note the alarming level of politicisation of social protection programs. Furthermore, issues of hunger and food aid programs have become more critical in light of the extension of the lockdown. Noting the weak administrative measures in communicating and providing real time accessibility to the social protection facilities, and concerned that this could create opportunities by the State to facilitate for inequities in access to State support;
- We therefore recommend that administrative measures be put in place and publicised to ensure that all citizens and vulnerable households benefit from these programs.
2. Response to other health threats
Deeply alarmed and concerned that, Zimbabwe is facing a malaria outbreak which has claimed the lives of 131 citizens;
Aware that in a humanitarian crisis such as the one presented by COVID-19, there is always the potential threat to neglect other health issues and services, by directing all efforts and primary resources towards the crisis;
- We therefore call on Government to provide the necessary support measures to ensure that we do not lose more lives to Malaria and other health threats currently happening. Again, this borders on investing in our public health sector.
3. Rise in Gender Based Violence cases
Reiterating the concerns pertaining to the rise of GBV during the lockdown; Noting with trepidation the lives of women having been put at risk during this time who unfortunately continue to rely on Non-State Actors whose operational functionality remains constrained.
- We therefore urge the expedition of the leadership of Government in protecting women and girls against violence from both private and public sources.
4. Designation of community workers as essential services
We continue to decry the failure to specifically designate social services officers and community workers as essential services.
- We therefore recommend active integration of community workers and social service workers into the COVID-19 response mechanisms.
5. Personal hygiene and caution
Lastly, we draw the attention of the Nation and recovering patients of COVID-19, to the World Health Organisation guidelines noting that recovery from COVID-19, does not indicate a patient’s immunity against re-infection or reactivation of the virus.
- We therefore urge everyone to continue, observing public health guidelines in efforts to contain the further spread of COVID-19.
The Extension of the lockdown will mean a continued strain on the lives of Zimbabweans.
- We urge citizens to care for themselves and those around them, particularly with managing stress and anxiety.
- We recommend, a reduction in reading and catching up on COVID19 Alerts and information.
- We encourage time, to take a step back, reflect and take small steps daily to show love and care to our friends and families and ourselves.
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)