Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report: 4 May 2020 – Day 36

Introduction

On Monday 4 May 2020, Zimbabwe entered into yet another phase of the national lockdown following its further extension for fourteen (14) days declared by the President Emmerson Mnangagwa on 1 May 2020. The declaration 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. The extended lockdown is a relaxed version, referred to as Stage 2 lockdown.

As of 4 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 3 May, a total of one thousand six hundred and eighty-two (1 682) tests were conducted, increasing the cumulative tests of suspected COVID-19 cases to thirteen thousand three hundred and twenty-nine (13 329), of which thirteen thousand two hundred and ninety-five (13 295) 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 Heal Zimbabwe Trust and Community Radio Harare have also been incorporated in this report.

Testing Guidelines

The Ministry of Health and Child Care set out parameters for mandatory employee testing under lockdown Stage 2. In a press statement, the Permanent Sectary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Agnes Mahomva expressed that the parameters for mandatory testing under stage 2 lockdown are as follows: The testing shall be done by a registered health practitioner from a designated testing facility; Testing shall be done at designated testing facilities, which include both private and public medical entities, mission health institutions, local authority health institutions and approved company clinics. Mobile outreach teams from designated testing institutions will be deployed to facilitate testing of employees at their workplaces; Companies are encouraged to procure approved COVID-19 test kits for themselves in line with the specifications issued by the Ministry of Health and Child Care; Employers must make arrangements with designated health institutions for arrangements for their employees to be tested; All official COVID-19 tests conducted should be submitted to the Ministry of Health and Child Care by 4 pm of the day the tests are conducted through a standardized data collection tool to be provided by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

The parameters are important in ensuring safe working places and limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. However, the Forum is extremely concerned by the government’s abrogation of its responsibilities by transferring the burden of securing test kits and the logistical arrangements to businesses. This is a mammoth task that will result in most companies failing to open, or taking non-compliant shortcuts in the testing measures. There is also serious concern over the pricing of the test kits given that some private testing centers are charging between US$25 and US$65, depending on the test. Placing such a financial burden on companies that have not been productive for the past 34 days will have a big impact on the capacity of companies to provide testing kits for their employees. The Ministry of Health and Child Care needs to establish affordable and reliable testing, and not transfer the burden of disease surveillance on commerce and industry with no planning.

General Atmosphere

In the wake of stage 2 lockdown, transport challenges were witnessed in the Harare suburbs of Kuwadzana, Glen View and Hatfield as the partial lifting of the national lockdown resulted in many passengers failing to board limited ZUPCO buses. Residents intending to go to work were left stranded due to the lack of transport.

In Waterfalls, the Harare City Council was destroying vending stalls at Zindonga Shopping Centre. The police were also reportedly confiscating goods from the vendors who were operating in the respective areas in Zindonga. In Sunningdale, it was also reported that the Harare City Council was demolishing tuck shops. Tuckshops were also demolished. In Mbare, Harare City Council was preparing the Mupadzanhamo Market through marking bays for vendor stalls.

In Lupane, some community members from Mzola and Tshongokwe could be seen drinking alcohol at bottle stores, whilst some have continued with their church gatherings. It was reported that some in the district have not yet received COVID-19 awareness from any civil societies, and the government.

In Tsholotsho, political party Linkages for the Economic Advancement of the Disadvantaged (LEAD), was distributing food aid in Chief Matapula area through a local Headman. The beneficiaries received mealie meal and cooking oil. Social distancing was followed through the distribution process.

In Chipinge, the number of people who were loitering and trading in the CBD increased. Police were turning away people who were not wearing face masks. Similarly, in Kariba the police were encouraging people to put on face masks. Those without were turned back home.

In Nyanga North, Member of Parliament Chido Sanyatwe convened a meeting with all village heads and ZANU-PF ward structures. Social distancing was not observed and participants were not wearing face masks. There was also no sanitizers or soap and water to wash hands. All 18 village heads who participated were given 50kgs of rice each, and members of ZANU-PF ward structures were given 5kgs of rice each.

Arrests

Several people were arrested across the country for violating the requirement to wear masks when outside homes. State newspaper the Chronicle reported on 5 May 2020 that Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube announced that 115 people were arrested in Bulawayo, mainly for not wearing face masks.

In Gweru CBD, police officers arrested nine (9) people for moving around without face masks. People who were not wearing face masks were not allowed entry at DCK supermarket, Senga township, Ascot, Mtapa, Mambo and Shamrock. The arrested persons were taken to Gweru Central Police Station where they were made to pay ZWL200 for defying the lockdown regulations.

In Zaka, community members were not allowed to access Jerera Growth Point without face masks. In Zvishavane, about fifty (50) people were arrested by the police officers for not wearing face masks. The victims were taken to Zvishavane Police Station where they were made to pay admission of guilty fines of ZWL200.

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
Assault215Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare, Marondera
Attack on Journalists12Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo
Arrests451Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Zaka
Malicious Damage to Property2Harare, Chitungwiza

Legal Matters

The Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) is demanding penalties of ZWL150 from motorists who failed to renew their vehicle licences by the 31st of March 2020, when a licence registration term expired. ZINARA closed its offices from the 30th of March 2020 when the lockdown commenced, and remained closed until 4 May. As a result, members of the public whose vehicle licences expired on 31 March 2020 were unable to renew.

The Forum has since written to ZINARA demanding a reversal of the penalties for those affected by the lockdown. In particular, the Forum noted in the communication to ZINARA that ZINARA placed an advert in the local media advising of a few places in Harare only where licensing of motor vehicle could be done during the lockdown period. However, only motorists with vehicles engaged in essential services, or those permitted to move by the regulations, could renew the licences.

The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) published Practice Direction 3 of 2020, advising that the courts in the country will open at full capacity from 11 May 2020. The courts will operate on the following guidelines: Court Registries will be open for litigants, legal practitioners and the public on weekdays from 8am until 3pm; Filing of court documents will proceed in terms of existing court rules, legislation or as directed in court orders; All matters are to be determined expeditiously without delay in order to limit contact and attendance at courts by litigants; The Sheriff will continue to serve all court process and orders, but will not carry out evictions, executions or conduct sales in execution for the duration of the lockdown period; The Marriages Registry will remain closed in the lockdown period; The direction also requires all litigants and court users to be subjected to temperature checks and sanitization of hands at entrances; to wear face masks; to avoid person to person contact and maintain social distancing. In addition, only litigants and witnesses will be allowed inside courtrooms, and letters of clearance issued by the police will be required for litigants who are required to attend court in another province or district.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)

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