Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report: 2 May 2020 – Day 34

Introduction

On Friday 1 May 2020 (day 33), President Emmerson Mnangagwa addressed the nation and extended the national lockdown by a further fourteen (14) days to the 17th of May 2020. This was followed by the gazetting of Statutory Instrument (SI) Statutory Instrument 99 of 2020 Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Amendment) Order, 2020 (No. 5) on 2 May 2020.

As of 2 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 2 May, a total of one thousand four hundred and thirty-six (1 436) tests were conducted, increasing the cumulative tests of suspected COVID-19 cases to ten thousand seven hundred and twenty-seven (10 727), of which ten thousand six hundred and ninety-three (10 693) were negative.

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 Community Radio Harare have also been incorporated in this report.

General Atmosphere

In Chitungwiza, a joint operation composing of the Chitungwiza municipality police, ZRP officers and anti-riot police demolished an informal traders workshop in Zengeza 4. Reports indicated that the workshop owner was paying monthly rates to Council though the municipal police destroyed the workshop. It was reported that the workshop was deemed an illegal structure. 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 Buhera, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare distributed food aid to the elderly, people with disabilities and orphans. Social distance was not observed during the distribution.

In Sanyati, it was reported that police officers were taking bribes from shop owners and bottle store owners for them to operate after the prescribed period. As a result, Sanyati growth point was a hive of activity and people were not maintaining social distance.

In Makokoba in Bulawayo, Econet Wireless distributed food to persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups from the area. It was reported that food hampers were delivered door to door to avoid crowding. The hampers consisted of 10kg mealie meal, 10kg soya chunks, 2 litres cooking oil, 1 green bar (washing soap), 500grammes salt and 500grammes of sugar beans. It was also reported that the World Food Program (WFP) distributed food at Nyachuru Primary School in Shamva to vulnerable groups.

In Mkoba in Gweru, residents complained about the lack of running water. It was reported that Mkoba has not received running water for more than four (4) days. Community members are resorting to community boreholes which are always crowded. Gweru Mayor Josiah Makombe indicated that the City Council is waiting for chemicals to be delivered.

In Chiwundura, there were reports that prices of basic commodities were on the rise. Reports indicated that 10kg of subsidized mealie meal which is sold in other areas for ZWL70 is now being sold at ZWL135, and 2ltrs cooking oil at ZWL145. Muchakata, Gunde and Kuni clinics were operating. However, they were not checking the temperature of patients due to the lack of infrared thermometers. Nurses at the clinics also indicated that they are not being provided with protective clothing.

In Bikita, over 200 congregants of the Masowe apostolic sect were gathered for 2 nights in the area. It was reported that congregants were not adhering to social distance or hygiene. It was also reported that some community members were defying the lockdown and drinking alcohol at Matsvange area. Reports also indicated that people were also drinking alcohol in Romberai village. It was reported that the people were not observing social distancing.

Assault

In Wedza, it was reported that police officers assaulted a man at Wedza growth point with baton sticks for allegedly loitering and defying the lockdown. It was reported that the man was going to buy groceries at the growth point when 4 police officers indiscriminately assaulted him without warning. The man sustained injuries to his right leg as a result of the assault.

Malicious Damage to Property

In St Marys, it was reported that 15 ZANU PF youths led by one identified as Mahoka destroyed property at Small Stones shop at Chigovanyika. The youths reportedly confronted the shop owner Roderick Kambaza and accused him of charging mealie meal at an exorbitant price. They further ordered Kambaza to hand over all the mealie meal he had to them. Kambaza refused to do so and the ZANU PF youths started destroying his shop and throwing stones at it.

Summary of violations

The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March 2020 to 2 May 2020.

Nature of ViolationNumber of VictimsLocation
Assault208Harare, 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 Property2Harare, Chitungwiza

Effect of Statutory Instrument (SI) Statutory Instrument 99 of 2020 Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Amendment) Order, 2020 (No. 5)

Besides extending the lockdown period by another 14 days to 17 May 2020, SI 99/2020 ushers Level 2, which is a relaxed national lockdown. Under the relaxed lockdown: businesses in the formal, commercial and industrial sector are allowed to operate from 8am to 3pm; people operating or employed in the formal commercial and industrial sectors shall be regarded as essential services employees or operators; before resuming work for the first time in terms of SI99/2020, workers will be required to subject themselves to screening and testing for COVID–19 through the rapid results diagnostic test or any other test approved by the Minister of Health and Child Care. In order to streamline and operationalise this condition, the Minister of Health and Childcare, Dr Obadiah Moyo advised that designated government institutions, mission hospitals and local government health institutions will be capacitated to conduct COVID-19 testing. Selected private health institutions which will be announced in due course will also be capacitated to conduct COVID-19 tests. The Minister also indicated that outreach teams will be deployed to facilitate COVID-19 testing of employees at their workplaces; everyone purporting to be an essential service operator or employee is required to comply with a direction to submit to screening and testing, to observe social distancing and to disperse and return home if the business or industry is determined not to be a formal business or industry; Failure to comply with an enforcement officer’s directions attract a fine or one-year imprisonment or both; 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.

Section 11E of the SI defines a business in the formal commercial and industrial sector as a business, industry, trade or occupation that deals in goods or services for the generation of income or the making of profits. This means any business or trade that is not offering services or goods for making profit or generating income is not allowed to return to work on 4 May 2020. Not-for-profit organisations are therefore excluded. The classification also leaves out informal trade for a further period of 14 days. The ban will impact heavily on many families in Zimbabwe who depend on informal trade and vending.

The SI also requires any operator or employee to prove that they qualify in the classification as a formal commercial or industrial business as defined by section 11E. In addition, the SI also makes it mandatory that: everyone who leaves their home to wear a face mask; every vehicle used by a transport service to be disinfected at least twice daily; every individual in any vehicle used for transport to observe the social distancing rule.

The SI can be downloaded at https://kubatana.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/SI-2020-099-Public-Health-order-5.pdf

Truth-telling

In times of crisis, truth-telling is critical in keeping people informed and prepared for the situation. However, there are concerns and allegations from health professionals, investigative journalists and citizens that the government is not being fully transparent with regards to its capacity to respond to the virus, and also statistics of infections. continues to conceal evidence of the extent and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. Allegations of the suppression of information in crisis times raise public anxiety, moral panic and decreases public confidence on State institutions. The Forum calls on the Ministry of Health and Child Care and government as a whole to place a premium on truth-telling and transparency. This enables for a clear picture of the state of affairs to be constructed, and facilitates for mobilization of the necessary support and resources necessary to tackle the pandemic.

Conclusion

As a result of the above the Forum: urges security forces to respect human rights as they are enforcing the lockdown; urges the government to be transparent with information relating to developments of COVID-19 in the country; urges the government to investigate allegations of corruption by police officers; urges community members to adhere to the lockdown and to exercise social distance; urges local authorities to step-up efforts to provide clean and portable water for communities.

Source: Zimbabwe human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)

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