Today marks the 23rd Day of the Lockdown in Zimbabwe. We wish to take this particular moment to salute and pay tribute to all the brave women and men who are working on the frontlines of COVID-19response, both within our borders and across the world. We appreciate the work that they are doing in the face of an unprecedented workload and risk and uncertainties brought by this global health emergency. Aware that very little is known about this virus, and that our brave women and men, especially in Zimbabwe are treading in unchartered waters, in most work settings which are under-protected, we continue to send them love and comfort in these trying times.
Concerned with mixed reports of news of the 65 returning residents from the UK, and the state of the quarantine facilities provided by the Government of Zimbabwe, including the conditions of other returning residents in various facilities across the country. We impress that every quarantine facility must be adequately capacitated to cater for basic needs such as water, menstrual and Covid-19 hygiene, blankets and food. Returning residents or not, citizens have Constitutional rights that ought to be respected.
Critical Emerging Issues
1. Protection of the prison population
Noting that convicted persons and those on remand are amongst the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 contagion;
Further aware that on a daily basis there are new entrants who are sent to remand prison from the outside world, where they may have been exposed to the virus and remain asymptomatic;
Aware that most of our detention facilities may not be capacitated enough for social distancing enforcement;
- We urge for enhanced screening for detainees at point of arrest.
- We urge Government to urgently and implement a comprehensive crisis plan to cater for the rights, needs and safety of detainees in the COVID-19 era. Paying particular attention to vulnerable detainees such as juveniles, pregnant women, persons with disabilities and those with underlying health conditions.
- We continue to await for the publication of the report on the status to the prisons population during COVID-19 lockdown.
2. Resumption of operations by the Mining and Agricultural sectors
Aware of the reprieve extended to the Mining and Agricultural sectors to resume operations during the lockdown;
Understanding the indispensable role, the two sectors play in shaping up the country’s economy;
Remaining vigilant on the anticipation that the Tobacco Floors are set to open tomorrow;
Concerned with the potential danger of exacerbating the spread of COVID-19, if the operations of these two sectors are not appropriately managed;
- We therefore recommend that the Chamber of Mines ensures protection of mine workers through enforcement of the maximum safety standards, also aimed at preventing potential spread of COVID-19 and, they must publicize when and how they are going to roll out a rapid testing program for its work force which is over 40 000.
Cognisant in particular that artisanal mines may have limited support to access PPE and appropriate knowledge to effect social distancing in artisanal mine settings;
- We urge Government to urgently announce the testing and prevention program for artisanal miners before they resume operations
3. Travel permits and exemptions
Noting the movement challenges currently being faced by women in the agriculture sector at Police Roadblocks, despite agriculture being classified as an essential service exempt from the lockdown restrictions;
Well aware that Government has provided guidelines in that sector regarding the operations of the permits however drawing the attention of Government to the administrative disparities regarding the operation of the exemption, and the travel permits;
Aware of the danger that this may lead to corruption and increased vulnerabilities of citizens and women in particular;
- We therefore call the attention of Government together with the applicable sector institutions and local authorities to rectify this anomaly.
4. COVID19 and Security services
Remaining concerned with the continuing seemingly low level of COVID-19 awareness on the part of our security services. In certain instances where they do not seem to practice social distancing, and other public health guidelines;
Noting that such behaviour poses a threat not only to the law enforcement officers themselves, but to communities they interact with;
Further noting the deployment of the security services sector appears to be mainly underpinned on the old-fashioned law and order mode as opposed to a constitutional model which pivots on Human Security.
- We call upon the leadership of the security services to train security personnel on COVID 19 and ensure that security services infuse COVID-19 awareness in the discharge of their duties;
Concerned that in these critical times, our security services sector could do more in providing services to the nation, without focusing only on arrests;
Noting that the arrest as publicised number 9889 which is three times the number of persons publicly tested for COVID-19;
We therefore draw the attention of Government to the numerous appeals issued by communities since the beginning of the lockdown. Communities have implored on Government to issue policing instructions to cater for the following:
- To provide protective policing measures during at community areas such as food markets, water points, supermarkets and provide specific support to vulnerable, such as pregnant women, the elderly and the infirm.
- Deployment of Police officers at Communal Water Points urgently to supervise the water points, reduce the possibility of violence against women and girls and to also enforce social distancing and sanitization measures at these points.
- Deployment of Police at bulk water deliveries points to ensure social distance at water points.
Response to the Malaria Threat
Gravely concerned with reports on the malaria outbreak which to date, has been reported to have claimed the lives of over 130 people;
Reiterating 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, while directing all efforts and primary resources towards the crisis;
- We call on Government to publicize its mitigation plan to the malaria crisis, such as provision of mosquito-nets, wide-spread fumigation of the hot-spots.
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)