Today marks the 32nd day of the lockdown. Of interest, to note is that day 32 of the Zimbabwe lockdown, is largely characterised by an astounding large number of persons arrested for infractions of the lockdown law. The total number of arrested persons is by far larger than the number of the cumulative COVID-19 tests conducted between March to date. As at 29 April 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that it had conducted 7 642 screening and diagnostic tests throughout the country. On the other hand, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, during its media briefing earlier today, announced that at least 15 545 persons have been arrested throughout the country for various offences relating to violation of the lockdown Regulations.
Commending the advance announcements and preparations being undertaken by various stakeholders and Government institutions, in anticipation of the possible easing of lockdown measures and resumption of operations, in a manner, that seeks to curb the spread of COVID-19. We however, remain awaiting for certain Government departments under the various ministries in particular Education, Transport, Finance, Housing amongst others, to engage with their respective sector associations and announce, in advance, the proposed plans for a potential gradual easing of the lockdown measures. We are also keen to know the COVID-19 response plan put in place by Parliament of Zimbabwe in ensuring that it safely resumes business on May 5, after its early adjournment in March due to COVID-19.
Critical Emerging Issues
1. Lack of comprehensive constitutional complaints mechanism
While we commend Government and in particular the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, for calling upon the public to report any cases of alleged rent seeking behaviour or any abuses by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, we wish to remind the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Parliament of Zimbabwe and stakeholders at large, on the urgent need to fully implement section 210 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, through the enactment of a law which establishes an Independent Complaints Mechanism.
- We further highlight that, in the absence of the stated Complaints mechanism, such calls to the general public to come forward, although impressive, do not do much to safeguard the public. Rather such calls will always be treated with significant lack of trust and wariness by the public.
- We therefore call upon the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage and the Parliament of Zimbabwe to urgently expedite the processes to enable the establishment of the section 210 Independent Complaints Mechanisms.
2. Measures for vulnerable groups
Concerned that over a month has passed since Zimbabwe recorded its first COVID-19 case, yet to date, no report has been publicised by Government on the status of our Refugee camps;
Further concerned that to date no report has been publicized in regards to COVID-19 prepared and testing in prisons and detention centres;
- Therefore, we call for the Government to update the nation on the status of Refugee camps and the measures put in place as response to COVID-19.
- We further call upon the Government together with the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services to provide a report on the state of prisons, detentions centres in regards to the overall COVID 19 preparedness and the mass testing of this vulnerable population.
3. Support to frontline workers
Remaining deeply distressed by the inadequate mechanisms put in place to address the concerns of the frontline health workers,
Understanding that in this global health emergency, the nation solely depends on the leadership, guidance, and of the frontline health workers;
Further concerned with the rise in the cases of COVID-19 positive cases, among them health workers;
- We therefore cannot over-emphasize on the need to protect frontline workers by supporting with adequate PPE and other assistance they may require.
1. Mealie meal distribution
Concerned with reports from our networks indicating the deferral of zonal distribution of mealie meal programs in certain areas.
Aware that the programs had begun to spread around the country with community to community distribution models that were beginning to support actual door-to-door deliveries.
Appreciating that this distribution model would go a long way in ensuring that communities’ access mealie meal, while upholding both social distancing and adherence to subsidised pricing.
- We call upon Government to urgently address this concern as households in Zimbabwe face real hunger.
2. Testing and Tracing
Aware that Government has a set target of 33 000 tests by 30 April 2020;
Further aware that as at 29 April, only a total of 7 642 screening and diagnostic tests had been conducted;
Realizing now that it has become impossible to beat the 33 000 mark;
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”.
Concerned of the reactive detection model being undertaken to directing testing in Zimbabwe;
Further concerned by the actual availability and accessibility of test kits across the country;
We call upon government to:
- Give a fuller picture of actual testing capacity available in real time.
- Advise the model of testing which will ensure Zimbabwe is able to act in terms of the WHO guidelines and actually proactively seek to detect potential COVID-19 cases.
- Strengthen the monitoring systems in place to monitor and follow up cases or instances of suspected COVID-19 cases which may not have been able to access a COVID-19 test.
- We therefore raise concern over the low number of tests conducted to date particularly against the targeted number of 33 000.
This SITREP is developed 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)