On Workers’ Day, Friday 1 May 2020 (day 33), President Emmerson Mnangagwa addressed the nation to inform citizens of the COVID-19 mitigation plans post 3 May, when the current extended lockdown is expected to end. In his address, President Mnangagwa extended the national lockdown by a further fourteen (14) days to the 17th of May 2020. However, conditions of the lockdown will be relaxed to Level 2. As part of the measures, under Level 2, the following measures were announced:
All people must wear masks of any type including home-made masks when outside their homes; Business will open on conditions, which include that companies must ensure mandatory rapid diagnostic testing of all employees, social distancing in the workplace, sanitisation and that all employees wear masks; Operating hours for businesses shall be from 8 am to 3 pm; The informal sector remains closed except the agriculture and food supply chains; Public buses are the only mode of public transport allowed; Omnibuses like kombis and smaller taxis are still not permitted to operate. Bus operators must ensure that their buses are disinfected twice a day and that commuters wear masks, have their temperatures taken and hands sanitised before boarding the bus. Social distancing must also be maintained within all buses; Health inspection teams will immediately randomly check for compliance. Those who fail to comply will be stopped from operating; Returning residents and international travellers to the country will be put on a 21-day mandatory quarantine with full testing on day one, day eight and day 21; Churches, gyms, bottle stores, bars, beer halls and other leisure and recreational facilities remain closed; Gatherings of less than 50 people are to be maintained; Schools will remain closed.
The President also advised that a ZWL18 billion economic rescue and stimulus package which is equivalent to 9% of GDP will be disbursed. Zimbabwe’s tourism and hospitality sector was allocated ZWL500 million. The manufacturing sector was allocated ZWL3 billion, while the agricultural sector was allocated ZWL 6,1 billion to stimulate production. Of concern, government only allocated ZWL1 billion to upscale the country’s hospitals and health care facilities. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and challenges in the health sector, there is need for a larger allocation of funds to procure COVID-19 testing kits, protective equipment and essential medication.
By the time this report was published, there no new regulations issued to operationalise the extension and the measures announced by the President. The President through the announcement indicated that the lockdown has been relaxed to level 2. However, the general public is not aware of what level 2 entails. The specifications of the various levels were not explained to citizens. Therefore, citizens are not aware of their expected conduct. Further, it is not clear which institutions and sectors the President referred to by referring to “industry” and “businesses”. It is important that there be clear specification in regulations on which sectors are now allowed to operate, and how health compliance will be operationalised.
As of 1 May, official statistics by the Ministry of Health and Child Care indicated that Zimbabwe had thirty-four (34) confirmed cases, including five (5) recoveries and four (4) deaths. On 29 April, the Ministry had reported that COVID-19 confirmed cases had increased to forty (40). However, on 1 May, reports from the Ministry indicated that 6 cases from Harare previously recorded as positive on 29 April were confirmed negative after quality assurance. On 1 May, a total of 977 tests were conducted, increasing the cumulative tests of suspected COVID-19 cases to nine thousand two hundred and ninety-one (9 291), of which nine thousand two hundred and fifty-seven (9 257) were negative.
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. Due to 1 May 2020 being Worker’s Day, very little information was available regarding what was happening in the various areas across the country.
In Chitungwiza, community members were seen in long queues at community boreholes. Some of the people indicated that they have not received water for the past two (2) weeks. Due to long queues and chaos at community boreholes, some individuals are now relying on unprotected sources of water such as Manyame river for domestic use.
At Mbare farmer’s market, scores of people were trying to buy farm produce were not maintaining social distance. Farmers and buyers alike were not wearing protective clothing during the interactions. After 1 pm when the farmers market had closed, vendors were seen selling their commodities in the streets adjacent to Mbare farmer’s market. ZRP officers from Matapi police station, later on, dispersed the crowded vendors.
There was a long queue at OK supermarket in Marimba of people waiting for their turn to buy mealie meal. The queues were chaotic and congested with total disregard of social distance. Similarly, at Spar supermarket in Borrowdale, people were seen jostling and not exercising social distancing as they were waiting for mealie meal. It was also reported that the police failed to control the queue as people got frustrated after management indicated that they ran out of stock. At OK Supermarket in Mabvuku, scores of people were crowded at the entrance as they awaited their chance to buy groceries. In a welcoming note, OK supermarket employees were checking the temperature of everyone getting into the shop.
In Kadoma, illegal forex dealers were seen in street corners in the CBD. Most shops closed at 2pm. However, some of the shops continued selling products through windows. At PicknPay supermarket, they were checking the temperature of people using infrared thermometers. People who registered high temperatures were not allowed entry into the supermarket. In the afternoon, police and soldiers were harassing people by instructing them to do pushups before allowing them to go back to their homes.
Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March 2020 to 1 May 2020.
|Nature of Violation||Number of Victims||Location|
|Assault||207||Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare|
|Attack on Journalists||12||Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo|
|Arrests||277||Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane|
|Malicious Damage to Property||1||Harare|
Exposing a vulnerable citizenry to more socio-economic problems and violence calls for rapid psychological support in Zimbabwe. The recent demolitions in Harare, Gweru, Masvingo, Mutare and other cities nationally expose vendors to more suffering, stress and in some cases can lead to suicide due to the unbearable socio-economic problems obtaining in the country. Upon extension of the lockdown by the President on 19 April 2020, many Zimbabwean citizens were not economically prepared due to lack of social safety nets. The government extended the lockdown without clear measures to cushion citizens from its accompanying economic impact. People such as vendors who depend on their daily sales to sustain their families are further exposed and made more vulnerable to the effects of the lockdown.
The Forum reiterates its call for the establishment of a robust psychosocial support system for victims of structural violence in the aftermath of the lockdown. Mental health institutions in Zimbabwe must be restored accompanied by a set of principles and policies that will ensure that there are safe spaces for victims to share their experiences and be rehabilitated for the trauma they might have incurred in so far as mental health is concerned.
While the Forum applauds the announcement by the President to extend the national lockdown for another fourteen (14) days, there are concerns over the practical implementation of the announcements since no new regulations have been issued to operationalise the eased extension. The lack of adequate information relating to the new measures such as the detailed specifications of the lockdown level 2 are worrisome and have caused anxiety and confusion among the citizens.
As a result of the above the Forum: urges the government to immediately gazette new regulations relating to the President’s announcement, and educate the public on the measures; urges the government to provide adequate information on the lockdown levels that the government has designed and is to implement; urges the government to be transparent in the distribution of public funds to private and public entities and beneficiaries of social welfare programs and the announced stimulus package; urges the government to allocate more resources to the health sector to enable an efficient and effective COVID-19 response; and urges local authorities to step-up efforts to provide clean and portable water for communities.
Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)