Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report: 30 April 2020 – Day 32

Introduction

On Thursday 30 April 2020 (day 32), it was 4 days to go to the end of a cumulative 35-day National Lockdown declared by President Mnangagwa, initially for 21 days but extended for another 14 days to 3 May 2020. The extension of the lockdown was followed by the gazetting of Statutory Instrument (SI) 2020-094 Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Amendment) Order, 2020 on 21 April 2020.

As of 30 April, official statistics by the Ministry of Health and Child Care indicated that COVID-19 confirmed cases remained at forty (40), whilst the number of deaths relating to COVID-19 remained at four (4). The total number of recoveries remained at five (5). On 30 April, a total of 672 tests were conducted, increasing the cumulative tests of suspected COVID-19 cases to eight thousand three hundred and fourteen (8 314), of which eight thousand two hundred and seventy-four (8 274) were negative. It is important to note though that the Ministry advised that two hundred and sixty-one (261) results from Harare were pending at the time of the release of the statistics.

In addition to the measures introduced by the government, also promulgated Statutory Instrument 96 of 2020 (Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) (Deferral of Rent and Mortgage Payments During National Lockdown) Regulations 2020. The regulations grant tenants a deferral of paying rentals for any residential and commercial property rented and a deferral on mortgage repayments for the duration of the lockdown and beyond. They restrain landlords and property owners from evicting tenants and banks from foreclosing because of default occasioned during the lockdown.

Methodology

Information contained in this report is derived 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); Excerpts from reports generated by Heal Zimbabwe Trust and Community Radio Harare have also been incorporated in this report.

General Atmosphere

Community Water Alliance visited Mbare ward 11 and 12 to sensitize communities and water point committees on COVID-19 prevention protocols. Community Water Alliance is currently running a campaign whose overall objective is to empower women and water point committees to fight COVID-19 through making water points/boreholes safe and leverage on the water points to raise awareness and urge citizens to implement COVID-19 prevention protocols. Meanwhile, reports indicated that Chitungwiza Municipality health workers embarked on a strike. It was reported that health workers at Chitungwiza municipal clinics are demanding Personal Protective Equipment, their salaries and COVID-19 allowances before they resume duties.

On day 32, demolitions of vending stalls by local authorities continued unabated in Epworth. The Epworth local board demolished a structure which housed a grinding mill at Munyuki Shopping Centre and in the process vandalized the grinding meal. All this comes after Harare High Court Judge Justice Munangati-Manongwa ordered that demolitions of vendors’ stalls and other “illegal” infrastructure should be stopped. The High Court order was granted after an urgent application filed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on behalf of informal traders and residents seeking to stop local and central government from demolishing their vending stalls and tuck-shops across the country.

In Mbare, scores of people were seen enjoying a football match at an open field near Matapi flats. The crowd did not maintain social distance. Similar sporting events in similar defiance of the COVID-19 policies were also reported in Highfields. OK Supermarket which is at Zindoga Shopping Centre, in Waterfalls, was crowded with community members who were queueing for mealie meal and groceries. The long queues which included children and the elderly did not follow the recommended social distance. It was however noted that police officers and security guards who were controlling this queue had face masks and gloves and ensured that customers were sanitized before entering the supermarket. A military truck with soldiers and police officers was observed going around the Southlea Park area ensuring that people stayed indoors.

In Bikita, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare distributed food aid at Borora Primary School. It was reported that the elderly, orphans and people with disabilities were the beneficiaries of the distribution. However, reports indicate that social distance was not maintained during the distributions. It was also reported that in Mutasa central, ZANU PF officials disrupted food distribution by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, where an estimated 150 people had gathered in ward 11 to receive food handouts. It is reported that ZANU PF supporters from the area came with a list that they tried to impose on the social welfare workers. This led to a brawl as community members intervened to stop ZANU PF supporters from hijacking the process. In Mhondoro, the World Food Program (WFP) also distributed food at Behura Secondary School and the beneficiaries were encouraged to maintain social distance.

In Gweru, community members were queueing at Gains Complex to buy mealie meal and groceries. However, it was reported that police officers dispersed people who were queueing for mealie meal to go back to their homes because they did not have permits for them to move around. It was reported that after police officers dispersed the crowd, scores of police officers were observed buying mealie meal from the very same shop they had chased away people from.

In Tsholotsho, WFP and Lead Trust were conducting food distributions in ward 5. The distribution was targeted at vulnerable groups in the community such as the elderly. The food packs consisted of mealie meal, beans and cooking oil. Social distance and hygiene were observed during the distribution.

In Umzingwane scores of people were gathered at Sezhube Shopping Centre drinking alcohol whilst some other people were gambling playing card and board games. Social distance was not observed. In parts of Nsidi farm villagers were observed catching mopane worms. There were also reports that the area has been receiving travelers coming as far as Masvingo, Zvishavane and Gwanda to buy mopane worms for resale.

Arrests

In Mkoba 7, police officers raided vendors and illegal foreign currency dealers and arrested eight (8) people who were taken to Mkoba 1 police station. They were charged with loitering and defying the lockdown regulations. They were released after paying an admission of guilt fine of ZWL200 per person.

Summary of violations

The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March 2020 to 30 April 2020.

Nature of ViolationNumber of VictimsLocation
Assault207Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare
Attack on Journalists12Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo
Arrests277Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane
Malicious Damage to Property1Harare

Court Update

On 29 April 2020, we reported that Justice Munangati-Manongwa of the High Court of Harare ordered demolitions of stalls and tuck-shops belonging to informal traders to be stopped in Chitungwiza and Epworth as they are unlawful and do not follow proper procedures. It is also important to point out that the order also directed that the residents and informal traders from Chitungwiza and Epworth who were Applicants in that matter, were also barred from conducting their informal business in undesignated areas and directed to obtain approval of the Chitungwiza Municipality and the Epworth Local Board before conducting their business in Chitungwiza and Epworth respectively.

In another development, Mr. Lovemore Zvokusekwa was granted bail in the sum of 1000RTGS by the High Court of Harare, after having been denied bail when he appeared for his initial remand at the Magistrates Court a week ago. He is expected to appear at the Magistrate Court on 13 May 2020.

Institutional reforms: Establishment of the Independent Complaints Mechanism

In light of the continuing human rights violations during the national lockdown, the Forum amplifies its calls on government to facilitate the establishment of an Independent Complaints Mechanism as provided for under Section 210 of the Constitution. Victims of violence urgently need access to a tribunal where they can report the misconduct of security services without fear of retribution.

The Forum also: urges the government to investigate and intervene on reported cases of partisan distribution of food; urges local authorities to heed the order by High Court Judge Justice Munangati-Manongwa that demolitions of vendors’ stalls and other “illegal” infrastructure should be stopped; continues to implore all citizens to take heed of the national lockdown so that the spread of COVID-19 is slowed down; Calls upon Chitungwiza town council to urgently address the needs of health workers.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)

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