Today marks the 35th Day into the lockdown. As at 2 May 2020, a total of 10 727 screening and diagnostic tests had been performed, with 34 confirmed as COVID-19 positive. Today is World Press Freedom Day and we salute the members of the press who have been continuing to play their critical role of providing critical information and amplifying voices at a time when the country is in lockdown. We also salute the citizens of Zimbabwe who have raised their voices during lockdown. We note the heightened level of speculation in the public domain as the public and businesses in general, remain concerned with the lack of information on the processes regarding access to COVID-19 rapid testing for employees. According to the law promulgated yesterday, COVID-19 rapid diagnostic testing of employees is one of the major pre-requisites for resumption of operations by businesses and institutions. Given this background, it is safe to conclude that at least three quarters if not more, of businesses and institutions will not be able to resume operations tomorrow.
We note the publication of the donations received by Government by Development Partners, the private sector and other community partners. We remain vigilant as a collective on the accountability for these and other resources.
Critical Emerging Issues
1. Use of masks
We call upon the Ministry of Health and Child Care to address public concerns regarding wearing of masks, and to issue detailed guidelines on the acceptable types of masks, so as to provide certainty to both the communities and enforcement officers. This will go a long way in addressing issues of compliance and harassment.
Noting that the public is making concerted efforts in self producing and procuring masks, in compliance with the law, however, concerned with reports from our networks indicating lack of knowledge on the proper handling of masks,
Gravely concerned with reports of children picking up used masks at dumpsites;
Noting that such actions may jeopardise and place the public at risk of infection;
- We urge the Ministry, the media and stakeholders to widely disseminate information on hygiene and disposal of used masks within the communities, so as to avoid the infection.
- We further urge the Ministry to further provide official guidelines on type of masks, their usage, their disposal and where applicable their reuse.
We remind the Government that public awareness is a critical step in this processes.
2. Assault of Citizens by Enforcement officers
Concerned with reports from our networks, of incidents where enforcement officers were beating up members of the public for the failure to wear masks and to observe social distancing, particularly in Goromonzi Ward 7;
Understanding that social distancing and face-masks, are critical measures in curbing the spread of COVID-19, and hence imperative for the public to adhere to these measures;
- We therefore remind the enforcement officers that due process of the law must be allowed to take course in dealing with offenders.
- It is important, in times such as these to respect every individual’s right to personal security and freedom from all forms of violence.
- We urge citizens communities and individuals facing the above-mentioned challenges to actively report incidence by contacting the following institutions:
I. National Peace and Reconciliation Commission: 0714 035 328 or call 0712 906 826
II. Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission on hotlines: 0786 602 035 or 0771 838 656
III. Zimbabwe Gender Commission on 0712 899 543 or 0712 899 543 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For women who may require assistance to submit complaints, we call upon them to contact the following:
I. MUSASA 08080074
II. Zimbabwe Women’s Lawyers Association 08080131
III. Women and Law Southern Africa 0777 366 952
IV. Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe 08080230
- We continue to call upon the Independent Commissions, particularly the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to remain vigilant in monitoring the conduct of the authorities, and also ensure observance of human rights and freedoms.
- We further call upon the Government to expedite the establishment of Constitutionally provided Independent Complaints Mechanism in terms of section 210 of the Constitution.
3. Transparency on COVID-19 Response
We reiterate our position on the quality of information and communication form government regarding COVID19. We raise the position that inadequate and discrepancies in information provided by the state erodes the integrity of the data and information provided by government and weakens the trust between citizen and the state.
In particular we call for transparency on the:
- Testing and Tracing and reporting system
- Readiness levels of the non-metropolitan centres
- Upgrades of the medical facilities across the country
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)