Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report: 11 May 2020 – Day 43

Introduction

11 May 2020 marked day 43 of the national lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This national lockdown was initially supposed to last for twenty-one days from 30 March 2020 to 19 April 2020 but has since been extended twice now to 17 May 2020.

On 11 May, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that one thousand four hundred and ten (1 410) tests were conducted increasing the cumulative tests of suspected COVID-19 cases to twenty-three thousand and ninety-six (23 096). Of these, twenty-three thousand and fifty-nine (23 059) were negative. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to thirty-seven (37) including twelve (12) recoveries and four (4) deaths.

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.

Emerging issues

The following issues have emerged as a result of the level 2 lockdown:

Returnees

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Nick Mangwana indicated there are currently 197 returnees at Beitbridge quarantine centre. The returnees consist of 111 male, 64 females, 11 boys and 11 girls. However, 8 people absconded the quarantine facility whilst 22 people were discharged from the quarantine facility. It was reported that Courtney hotel in Harare which is also being used as a quarantine centre has 18 returnees. Of the 18 returnees, 2 have done their mandatory quarantine stint and are due to be discharged. The other 16 were received on 9 and 10 May respectively.

It was reported that Simukai Rehabilitation Centre in Mutare has 8 children under quarantine. 2 of the children have since been transferred to Harare to reunite with their families whilst family tracing for the remaining 6 children is underway. It was further reported that Jairosi Jiri Bulawayo is accommodating 27 children who were living and working on the streets. To date, 3 children have been successfully reunited with their families and family tracing is in progress for the remaining 24 children.

Lockdown enforcement

Reports received from Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Harare indicate that most roads leading into the city centres have checkpoints manned by police and army officers. It is alleged that community members without face masks and exemption letters are either being turned back or arrested where there are liable to a fine of up to ZWL 500.00. In Harare CBD, illegal foreign currency dealers were observed around 5th street and major bus termini including Copacabana and Market Square. It is alleged that illegal foreign currency dealers are paying bribes of up to ZWL500 to police officers and soldiers manning checkpoints and patrolling the streets to allow them to operate.

Lockdown Defiance

In Mazowe, community members were observed loitering at shopping centres and in the streets without wearing masks or observing social distance. Vendors were observed selling their commodities at street corners disregarding social distance and hygiene. Community members were not allowed access into supermarkets without face masks, this resulted in community embers exchanging face masks, tying shirts to their faces whilst some were reported to have tied cardboard boxes.

Similar reports were received from Umguza and Beitbridge were community members were not allowed entry into supermarkets such as N.Richards wholesale without face masks.

In Guruve, community members under Chief Bepura attended a funeral in the area without taking note of the stipulated numbers of people allowed to congregate, social distance and hygiene. Community members were also observed fetching water at community boreholes without wearing face masks.

Impact on Communities

The majority of basic commodities consumed in Zimbabwe including cooking oil and rice are imported from neighbouring countries such as Mozambique and South Africa. Due to the national lockdown, most shop owners are unable to import goods to restock their supplies. This has led to shortages of basic commodities and the increase in prices of the available commodities. In Muzarabani, reports indicate that prices of basic commodities have drastically increased whilst most retailers are selling commodities in foreign currency. It was reported that 10kg mealie meal is now going for USD10, 2litres cooking oil USD3, and bathing soap USD0.70.

Amidst the increase and scarcity of basic commodities, reports from Muzarabani indicate that ZANU PF official Joseph Gweshe is politicizing social welfare food aid. It was alleged that the ZANU PF official hijacked a food distribution process by giving employees from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare a distribution list to be used for food distribution in the area. Known MDC supporters were not part of the list that Gweshe shared with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare employees. As a result, MDC members were side-lined from the food distribution process.

Impact on business

Statutory Instrument (SI) Statutory Instrument 99 of 2020 Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Amendment) Order, 2020 (No. 5) stipulated that public buses are the only mode of public transport allowed. Omnibuses like combis and smaller taxis are still not permitted to operate. This has resulted in a critical shortage of transport for workers commuting to and from their respective places of employment. As a result, most employers have enlisted transport companies to ferry their employees to work and back, which is an additional cost on companies that are trying to resume operations.

Private transport operators have been negatively affected by the pronouncement. According to the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, July Moyo, private transport operators to be classified as official service providers have to register with ZUPCO so that they can operate during the lockdown period. However, coercing private transport operators to join ZUPCO is an unfair practice and private transport operators have seen the move as a hostile takeover of their businesses.

Aid and support

A plane carrying a consignment of medical supplies together with a team of experts in fighting COVID-19 from China arrived in the country. The consignment of medical supplies includes sundries such as gloves, face masks, and other medication. The team of Chinese experts is expected to visit various health institutions nationally and share expertise with local medical practitioners.

In Mashonaland East, Citizens Initiative and the Rozario Memorial Trust delivered Personal Protective Equipment to health institutions. The health institutions that benefited include Jekwa clinic, Chitate clinic, Chitowa clinic, Murehwa Poly Clinic and Dombwe clinic.

Summary of violations

The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March 2020 to 11 May 2020.

Nature of ViolationNumber of VictimsLocation
Assault229Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare, Marondera, Beitbridge
Attack on Journalists12Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo
Arrests324Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mwenezi, Guruve, Hwange
Malicious Damage to Property2Harare, Chitungwiza

Court Update

On day 43 of the lockdown, courts opened their doors to hear non-urgent matters after having been on lockdown for 40 days. Although the courts remain closed to the public, legal practitioners, litigants, witnesses and the press are expected to have access under strict measures of social distancing and hygiene. Chief Justice Luke Malaba on 11 May toured the Harare Magistrates Courts to assess the level of compliance and prevention measures in the fight against COVID-19 which include a sanitising and disinfectant spraying booth.

Justice Manzunzu of the High Court of Harare heard an urgent application filed by some Chinhoyi informal traders seeking an order to stop Chinhoyi Municipality from demolishing their vending stalls and shops. This case follows an interim order that was issued by Justice Munangati Manongwa in an application filed by Chitungwiza residents and informal traders from Epworth barring local authorities from demolishing vending stalls. The Forum will continue to monitor further developments in this case.

Conclusion

The Forum is concerned by the increasing numbers of people defying the regulations of the national lockdown to pursue economic activities without the necessary protective clothing. Further, transport challenges have continued to plague community members commuting to work and back due to the shortage of ZUPCO busses. The Forum urges the government to provide adequate transport for workers. Further, the Forum urges the government to investigate reported cases of corruption by state security officers. The Forum also urges the government to intervene on cases of partisan distribution of food aid.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)

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