37 Days into the lockdown with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare updating the nation that as at 4 May 2020, a total of 13 329 screening and diagnostic tests had been performed, and that the results for the latest cases would be announced on 5 May 2020. We continue to note the combination of the total numbers of both screening and diagnostics tests. We also continue to note the ever-changing presentation standard of the reporting templates issued. We therefore call upon the Ministry of Health and Child-care to revert back to their prior position of clearly articulating the total of screening separately from the number of diagnostics test run, and a standardised mode of reporting.
We note that Parliament of Zimbabwe, resumed sitting today, however we are concerned with the level of lack of physical distancing witnessed today in the August House. We continue to call upon Parliament to expedite the development and implementation of innovative and virtual strategies for resuming operations in the COVID-19 era.
Critical emerging issues
1. Protection of Prison Population
Commending the amendment of the clemency Order to facilitate the release of more inmates, particularly persons with disabilities, women and juveniles.
- Noting that this action assists in decongesting prisons and detention centres in the COVID-19 era.
- We remain deeply distressed that there has been no public update on the conditions over our prisons and detention centres over the entire lockdown period, despite numerous persistent calls to do so.
- Calls for accountability on the conditions of prisons and their preparedness for COVID 19, have been met with measures to de-congest prisons, but no actual update on the prisons population has been made.
- We call upon the Government to address this anomaly at the soonest.
2. Social distancing
Concerned further with the growing evidence showing a trend in which persons are now disregarding social distancing:
Particularly regards to reports from our networks in Chivi Central, where most community members continue to deft social distancing, by gathering in crowds preparing and drinking home-made beer. The youth on the other hand, playing street soccer (mabhuza)
Further noting the high volume of customers flocking in supermarkets in various provinces as communities were stocking up of food supplies and other items;
- While we commend the retailers for insisting on the wearing of the masks, we remain concerned the lack of social distancing that was being implemented.
- We therefore remind the public, the enforcement officers and Government that wearing of masks alone, without supporting measures such as social distancing, is a self-defeating practice. Social distancing is a critical element in addressing the spread of the coronavirus infections spread and should therefore be observed at all costs.
Fully aware of the magnitude through which the lockdown has severely affected households, and individual’s earning capacities.
Deeply concerned with reports from our grassroots networks, on hunger and hardships in communities, particularly in Wedza South Ward 12, and Chivi Chiveso area;
Further understanding that women are part of the vulnerable section that has been seriously impoverished;
- We bring to the attention of Government, section 77 of the Constitution, which guarantees every person the right to sufficient food, and places an obligation on the State to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.
- Furthermore, We urge the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare to expedite disbursement of food aid and grants to vulnerable communities in a transparent manner, without any political interference.
- We call upon mobile money operators to remove transaction costs on the cash transfer program
4. Community Wellbeing and Social Cohesion
Noting the outbreak of the COVID19 has resulted in alarm and distress in communities which has been compounded by the nature of the Lockdown.
Noting that the disruption to everyday lives has brought upon it the strain for the livelihoods and the socio-economic activities in communities
We note with contended the marked increase of the communities registering an erosion of social cohesion and increased levels of anxieties leading to various displays of agitation, aggression and violence;
- We call upon Government to deploy community case care workers to undertake applicable community inspections and programs to support connectivity.
- We remind our communities that self-centeredness and selfishness ultimately are a form of self-harm, We encourage activities and actions that promote collective care and wellbeing.
- We urge citizens to demonstrate and practise responsible neighbouring, care and consideration towards one another.
- We further call upon our social institutions clubs, groups including churches to support the language, and actions that protect and promote social cohesion in communities.
Remaining concerned with the dire water situation currently obtaining throughout the country.
Particularly distressed with reports from our networks in Warren Park, ward 15, where a bucket of water was being sold for $15 zwl.
Noting that water is a universal human right, guaranteed by the Supreme law of the land;
Aware that in April, the High Court delivered a ruling, ordering the adequate provision of water;
- We therefore register our displeasure over non-compliance with the court ruling;
- We call to order the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, and all local authorities in their respective districts, to ensure adequate provision water, through the implementation of short and long-term strategies.
6. Accountability for State Resources to Taxpayers
Concerned that Zimbabwe is facing a pandemic of as yet unknown proportions and implications on the national fiscus;
Seeking to trace and track our national resources which ought to be available to aid Zimbabwean in their time of need;
Further concerned that sate prioritisation has resulted in a deeply fractured and weakened public health and social series delivery system;
Deeply distressed on the constituting regressive taxation system in Zimbabwe that unduly burdens individual citizens as taxpayers yet the national resources are taxed nominally and are very poorly unaccounted for creating and exacerbating the individual costs borne by households;
Alarmed at the skewed prioritisation in the managing and accounting for public resources;
Perturbed that in time of crisis the support the public can expect from Government is grossly inadequate;
Agitated at the weak inability of Government to maintain high levels of stewardship on national resources;
Frustrated that women consistently and perennially face the brunt of poor stewardship;
- We call for an urgent review of the country taxation system;
- We urge for an urgent review and overhaul of the operational and administrative systems in government to account and manage resources;
- We further call for a demonstrable and measurable commitment to put Zimbabweans and women first.
1. Use of Rapid Diagnostic Test kits
We continue to note concerns in the public discourse, particularly the by Health practitioners, over the use of Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RTDs). The Zimbabwe College of Public Health Physicians, and also another senior doctors’ association, have advised that rapid diagnostic tests are not as accurate, and that WHO and other health institutions, have discouraged the use of RDTs for diagnosis purposes.
Concerned therefore, that Government has authorised and made it mandatory, for all employees to be tested for COVID-19, through the RDTs
- We request the Ministry of Health and childcare to release an official position in response to these legitimate concerns raised.
- We further urge employees and businesses to continue observing other containment protocols, further to the RTDs.
2. Public Transport Challenges
We continue to note reports from our grassroots networks pointing to challenges in accessing public transport and lack of capacity by ZUPCO to meet the high demand;
Understanding that as the per the law, ZUPCO is the only designated mode of public transport at the moment;
Concerned further with reports showing disregarding of social distancing by members of the public boarding the buses;
- We reinforce warnings that if proper mitigatory measures are not established to ensure social distancing in addition to decontamination and use of masks, the public transport system will be our undoing in this COVID-19 battle.
- We continue to call upon the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and also the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural
Development to strengthen the public transport system in order to cater for the high demand by the public.
Concerned with growing reports of persons collecting used masks, washing and re-selling them to unsuspecting customers;
Understanding that this poses a health threat, not only to the customers, but to the persons selling the masks as well
- We therefore recommend strengthening public awareness initiatives on disseminating information on proper handling of masks.
- We further urge members of the public to safely destroy used masks before disposal, as another way of addressing the challenge.
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)