Today marks the 29th day of the lockdown. Zimbabwe is left with less than a week before the lockdown period expires. As at 26 April 2020, Zimbabwe had conducted a total 6 395 tests nationwide. Earlier, Government set a target to perform at least 33 000 tests by 30 April 2020.
We remain concerned by the targeted testing as Zimbabwe nears the deadline of the testing date. In particular as the mass testing protocol represents a key step to considering the easing of lockdown measures.
We note the progressive contribution of the Judiciary, through the High Courts, in ensuring that Government expressly address the need for awareness to all persons in Zimbabwe during this current global public health pandemic, in particular the daily COVID-19 Updates in all the 16 languages recognised in the Constitution of Zimbabwe. We note further the progressive decision earlier in the lockdown which directed the state broadcaster to ensure that the news bulletins would be provided to the persons who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, the Blind and partially sighted people to access the information in formats accessible to those specific communities.
These judgements from our High courts strengthen the practice change of practice in the State that is driven to progressively realising the rights of persons, in their full diversity, practically.
Critical Emerging Issues
1. Rights of Women and Access to Pre-Natal Care
Remaining 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 are not safe;
- We continue to 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 call for the designation for the express designation of community health care workers as essential service workers and the provision of Personal Protective Equipment to those providing care to women in distress at this time.
- We reinforce our 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
2. Restrictions in Accessing Non-COVID19 Health Care Services
Fully aware that healthcare centres must prioritise the readiness for COVID-19, Health policy makers and health administrators must ensure there is appropriate provision for on-going access to general health care services whilst catering to the COVID-19 Pandemic;
Reminding government that the right to health remains a constitutional and fundamental right, even in the face of any disaster;
Concerned by reports in our networks of communities failing to access health services;
- We reinforce our call for special attention to uninterrupted accessibility and provision of health services.
- We continue to call for the provision of the healthcare series and public health access to medication particularly, for persons with chronic illness
- Call on government to message appropriately to health centres to ensure the provision of non-COVID-19 related health services during the lockdown.
- We urge the health facilities and health personnel to not turn away patients.
3. Non-adherence to Lockdown Measures
Concerned by reports of non- observance of social distancing and lockdown generally in the rural communities, particularly in areas such as Goromonzi Ward 7, Murehwa Ward 11 and Mberengwa. Reports from our networks on the ground, indicate that in Mberengwa, the Police have had to throw teargas in order to disperse crowds that were not observing social distancing.
- We therefore urge communities to observe social distancing and to comply with the lockdown measures.
- We urge government to adopt stronger awareness measures and support community groups undertaking awareness campaigns to ensure the public is well equipped to understand the COVID-19 risks that they face and strengthen their ability to take protective measures.
- We remind citizens that we have now moved into a phase where we have recorded a number of COVID-19 community transmission, with 3 cases having been confirmed in Mhondoro. Therefore, more than ever, each individual must act with caution and minimize chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 further within the communities.
1. Price Controls
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 continue to 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.
2. Support to Persons with Disabilities
Remaining concerned with the Government’s demonstrated complacency and lack of proactiveness in supporting persons with disabilities;
- We continue to urge Government to take steps and implement measures for supporting persons with disabilities, in responding to the pandemic and also to ensure that special mechanisms are adopted, to lessen their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
- We further recommend the designation of Interpreters as essential service, so as to facilitate for the provision for assistance of persons with disabilities at screening points.
3. 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 reiterate policy prioritisation of women and girls, in the implementation of the social protection programs.
- We reaffirm our 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.
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)