Today marks the 28th day of the lockdown. Zimbabwe is only left with a week, before the lockdown period expires. Once again an atmosphere of uncertainty grips the nation, the informal sector and the business community at large, as to what will happen after 2 May 2020. Of grave concern is the question as to whether we are making progressive strides towards satisfying the WHO guidelines on lifting a lockdown. Of interest to note is that as at 25 April 2020, Zimbabwe has conducted total of 6 067 tests, against a target of 33 000 tests by the 30th April 2020. It is only 4 days remaining before the 30th April.
Applauding concerted efforts in establishing more quarantine for residents travelling from outside Zimbabwe.
Commending reports of a number of returnees from Cameroon, Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana.
We however urge the promotion and protection of the rights of quarantined persons, particularly in regards to a clean environment as provided by section 73 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, and the right to sufficient food and safe clean water as provided for by section 77 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Critical Emerging Issues
Noting that as at 25 Aril 2020, Zimbabwe had only conducted 6 067 cumulative tests, and of these 31 were confirmed positive;
Aware that Government of Zimbabwe has a set target of 33 000 tests by 30 April 2020;
Understanding that the WHO provided 6 guidelines for lifting a lockdown, one of the important guidelines being that the “health system must be able to detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact”;
- We therefore raise concern over the low number of tests conducted to date particularly against the targeted number of 33 000.
2. Rights of women and access to pre-natal care
Concerned by growing reports of pregnant women struggling to access pre-natal care due to COVID-19, particularly in Matebeleland North;
Reports highlight that women in marginalized and remote areas are failing to access transport to ferry them to the nearest medical facility.
Gravely concerned that these challenges have continue to manifest in other parts of the country as well, as reported by our networks, indicating that hospitals are not keen on attending to pregnant women.
Noting that these impediments have compelled desperate pregnant women to resort to home deliveries, which in most circumstances may not be safe;
- We therefore remind the Government and Independent commissions that pregnant women are entitled to their right to healthcare as contemplated by section 76 of the Constitution
- We therefore call for measures to support women and ensure that they access pre and post-natal care, and reproductive health care services without any impediments due to COVID-19
3. Access to education
Appreciating Government’s efforts to ensure that school children do not lag behind in terms of school, by announcing that over and above the virtual learning platforms, broadcasting and radio services will also be employed in conducting lessons;
Applauding Government for taking heed to our call to ensure access to education by providing printed material and study packs to children in marginalized communities;
Reaffirming concerns we raised previously on the lived realities of the majority of school children and students in remote rural areas and children with disabilities who lack access to the information technology and communications equipment, internet and in certain cases may not even be computer literate or have access to radio and television reception signal, as reported by our networks;
- We urge all stakeholders and partners to monitor and remain vigilant in ensuring that whatever innovative ways employed for ensuring that children continue with their school lessons, are not self-defeating and do not perpetuate inequalities and deprivation on the part of vulnerable children from marginalized and ensure there is no widening of equality gaps in terms of access to education.
- We therefore reiterate our call for special consideration for the facilitation of education packs to support such vulnerable communities.
4. Price control
Aware that Government recently announced the price moratorium on basic goods and a return of prices of goods to prices prevailing on the 25th of March 2020;
Appreciating that this action represents a demonstrable action by Government to address the issues of rampant price increases.
Gravely concerned however, by reports from our networks indicating that prices of basic commodities have remained high, and in other areas, communities are already facing scarcity of commodities such as cooking oil and sugar;
- We therefore urge Government, in particular, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, to urgently establish an applicable taskforce to ensure full compliance of the moratorium.
- We also urge citizens to remain vigilant that the price moratorium is implemented and to report any anomalies to the Consumer Councils of Zimbabwe.
1. Burden of Unpaid Care-Work
Understanding that each humanitarian crisis or disaster impact women and men differently. Further understanding that the Zimbabwean society believes that women are responsible for being primary care givers in homes and that girl children are expected to assist women in the home to provide care, comfort and be responsible for the state of home and wellbeing of people who reside in it;
Further concerned that duties such as fetching water, queueing for food and medication, collection of firewood or other energy products for household energy use create and exacerbate time poverty faced by women, increase the amount of stress that women face at household level which compromise women’s health and increase their susceptibility to various illnesses including COVID-19;
Deeply disturbed that due to COVID-19, the burden of unpaid care-work has drastically increased thereby increasing vulnerability of women and girls;
- We urge policy prioritisation of women and girls, in the implementation of the social protection programs.
- We call on government to ensure that there is a reduction in women’s time poverty in particular ensuring access to safe bulk portable water and provision of clean, affordable, acceptable and accessible energy.
- We urge government to deploy social service workers who can lead in providing social welfare assistance to ameliorate the undue burden faced by women at household level.
- We call to the attention of the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, to remain resolute in monitoring and ensuring that the equality gap does not widen further.
Noting that in some families some men and boys are actively contributing to providing care and support to their families and household members;
- We therefore, call upon men and boys who may as yet not recognise the undue strain faced by women to step up and be progressive active players in the provision of household care and wellbeing for their families.
2. Complaints against the security services sector
We continue to note the growing complaints by members of the public against alleged instances of rent seeking behaviour or abuse by security service officer during the lockdown. We raise this issue to note the deficit in Zimbabwe of the lack of the Independent Complaints Mechanisms as provided by section 210 of the Constitution.
We urge that such a mechanism would increase the confidence of aggrieved members of public to come forward and officially lodge such complaints. It will also go a long way in providing the applicable institutions with an opportunity to respond to the complaints raised.
Further to that, we call upon communities and individuals facing the above-mentioned challenges to contact the following institutions:
- National Peace and Reconciliation Commission: 0714 035 328 or call 0712 906 826
- Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission on hotlines: 0786 602 035 or 0771 838 656
- Zimbabwe Gender Commission on 0712 899 543 or 0712 899 543 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For women who may require assistance to submit complaints, we call upon them to contact the following:
- MUSASA 08080074
- Zimbabwe Women’s Lawyers Association 08080131
- Women and Law Southern Africa 0777 366 952
- Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe 08080230
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)