Tuesday 5 May 2020 was day 37 of the national lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa initially for the period 30 March 2020 to 19 April 2020 and has since been extended twice to the 17th of May 2020. addressed the nation and extended the national lockdown by a further fourteen (14) days to the 17th of May 2020.
On 5 May, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that a total of one thousand four hundred and ninety-two (1 492) tests were conducted, increasing the cumulative tests of suspected COVID-19 cases to thirteen thousand one hundred and thirty-nine (13 139), of which thirteen thousand one hundred and five (13 105) were negative. This is the seventh day in a row that statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care indicate that Zimbabwe has no new COVID-19 infections or deaths to report. Zimbabwe has thirty-four (34) confirmed cases, of which five (5) are recoveries and four (4) deaths.
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.
14th Cabinet Meeting Decisions on COVID-19
The Chairman of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on COVID-19, Honourable Vice President K.C.D. Mohadi presented the weekly report on the national preparedness and response to the COVID-19 Outbreak, which was adopted by Cabinet. Cabinet noted with concern the surging in prices of basic goods despite the recently agreed price moratorium by all the stakeholders. In relation to the response on COVID-19, Cabinet agreed:
- that private players in the Health Sector be enlisted to upscale the testing of employers and employees as they resume operations under Level 2 lockdown;
- that in order to ensure availability of staff at all health institutions, Government suspends the Collective Bargaining Agreement on flexi-hours for the health sector;
- that a COVID-19 Command Centre headed by the Civil Protection Unit be established at the Ministry of Health and Child Care Headquarters to direct and coordinate all operations therefrom. The Command Centre will be a hands-on facility that will report real-time to the Chairman of the Task Force on the day to day state of affairs of the COVID-19 response;
- that the services of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) in the logistics of the COVID-19 response be enlisted.
Guidelines to operationalise the policy on mandatory testing for COVID-19 before reopening of businesses
S.I. 99 of 2020 requires companies in the commercial and industrial sectors which are opening for the first time during the period of lockdown to have all their employees tested for the COVID-19 virus using the rapid results test. However, Cabinet noted that companies are experiencing difficulties in accessing the rapid results test kits for testing their employees. As a result, Government has decided that, pending companies acquiring the required test kits to test their employees, companies will be permitted to open subject to the following conditions being met in relation to their employees: Temperature tests upon entering work premises; Hand sanitizers upon entry to sanitize their hands; Each employee to wear a face mask in an appropriate form; Employees to practice social distancing in the workplace; Companies shall remain under an obligation to subject all their employees to the rapid results tests as soon as reasonably possible during the period of the declaration of the COVID-19 virus as a formidable epidemic disease by the Minister of Health and Child Care.
In Insiza, it was business as usual as most people were back to their normal daily routines. Illegal foreign currency dealers flocked the streets whilst supermarkets were not allowing individuals without face masks to gain access. As a result, some people were exchanging their face masks in order to gain entry.
In Gweru, police officers mounted roadblocks on all roads leading into the CBD. People commuting to town without face masks were turned back and not allowed access into the CBD. It was reported that seventeen (17) people without face mask were instructed to disembark a ZUPCO bus they had boarded. Bata shoe company employees in Gweru resumed work. However, some of the employees indicated that they have not been provided with protective clothing to protect themselves from contracting the virus.
In Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe, community members were gathered at Nyanzou Business Centre receiving food aid from the Catholic Relief Services. It was reported that community members received maize through a process in which social distance and recommended hygiene standards were maintained.
The Mazowe district council demolished vending stalls and structures at Nzvimbo. Similar reports of the council led demolitions were also reported in Parktown in Harare were vending stalls and structures were also destroyed. These demolitions come 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 the local and central government from demolishing their vending stalls and tuck-shops across the country. However in a surprise twist of events, the Secretary for Local Government and Public Works, Mr Z Churu has written to Town Clerks, Secretaries and Chief Executive Officers to continue with the clean-ups ( a term used to describe the demolitions) as well as renovations of Small and Medium Enterprises workspaces.
In Mt Darwin, it was business as usual for artisanal miners at Tabex village. It was reported that the miners were working without protective clothing and not maintaining social distance.
In Hurungwe, people without face mask were turned back to their houses by police officers. Community members indicated that face masks are not readily available and called on the government to intervene on their behalf.
In Zvimba, the Ministry of Health and Child Care had an awareness campaign at Mazunzahomwe Shopping Centre. People were encouraged to wear face masks, washing hands frequently and taking all necessary measures of limiting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Epworth, residents reported that they have gone for more than 2 weeks without water. Most people have now resorted to unprotected wells for water. Most of the community boreholes are not working whilst the few that are working are crowded and chaotic.
Long queues of women and children who were waiting for vaccination of children against polio were observed at Warren Park polyclinic Most of the women and children were not wearing protective clothing. It was also reported that opposite the clinic, there was an equally long queue of residents who were fetching water from a community borehole. Social distance and proper hygiene were also not maintained in the queue for water.
In Tsholotsho, most of the community members remained indoors due to the lack of face masks.
Police officers arrested six (6) people at Tsholotsho growth point for loitering without face masks. It was reported that the arrested persons were taken to Tsholotsho police station where they were detained for 2 hours before paying ZWL200 fine. It was further reported that one of the arrested persons was assaulted by police officers with baton sticks for allegedly resisting arrest.
Three (3) people were arrested and detained at Mkoba 1 police station for loitering without face masks. The arrested persons included one vendor, one pregnant woman and one man. The trio was detained for more than 3 hours at Mkoba 1 police station and later released after paying ZWL200 fine.
In Gokwe Gumunyu, police officers harassed and arrested seven (7) people who were drinking traditional beer in Mutehwe village. The owner of the house where community members had congregated was allegedly ordered to dip his head into a 20-litre container containing traditional beer. The seven (7) people were taken to Gumunyu police station where they were ordered to pay ZWL500 fine. It has been noted that police fines are not standard nationally. People are being ordered to pay different fines for the same offences depending on the area.
Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March 2020 to 5 May 2020.
|Nature of Violation||Number of Victims||Location|
|Assault||215||Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare, Marondera|
|Attack on Journalists||12||Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo|
|Arrests||293||Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Tsholotsho|
|Malicious Damage to Property||2||Harare, Chitungwiza|
Magistrate Msika of the Bindura Magistrates Court set Admire Mpemhi free and released his co-accused, Robert Zachaeu on ZWL300 bail. The two men were arrested on Sunday, 3 May 2020 and charged with insulting President Mnangagwa through posting and commenting on a video shared on a residents WhatsApp group. The Magistrate set Admire Mpemhi free on the basis that the facts in the charge sheet did not disclose an offence against him. Robert Zacheau remains on remand pending the finalisation of his matter.
As a result of the above the Forum: urges the government to publish and standardise fines to be paid for breaching the terms of the lockdown; urges community members to adhere to the lockdown and to exercise social distance; urges local authorities to step up efforts to provide clean and potable water for communities; urges local authorities to take note of the Harare High Court Judge Justice Munangati-Manongwa ruling for demolitions of vending stalls to be stopped.
Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)