44 Days into the lockdown, and Zimbabwe is left with 5 days before the expiry of the lockdown. The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare reported that as at 11 May 2020, cumulatively a total of 12 498 rapid screening tests and 10 598 PCR diagnostic tests had been conducted. To date, a total of 37 cases have been confirmed as COVID-19 positive. Lately, statistics are demonstrating a daily rise in community transmission cases. Could this be attributed to the relaxation of lockdown measures under Level 2 or inadequate testing?
Critical Emerging Issues
Security and crime
While the majority, were of the opinion that the lockdown enforcement would ultimately result in the plummeting of the crime rate, Level 2, in our opinion, appears to have triggered an opposite effect.
We note reports from our networks indicating an increase of crime in their communities. Particularly, in Zvishavane Ward 9, where our networks have submitted reports of cases of robberies and theft targeted at women.
- We note that an increase in crime may break public trust, leading to community unrest under COVID-19.
- We therefore call upon the Zimbabwe Republic Police to strengthen securitization of COVID-19 responses, with the sole intention to curb crime and violence against women. In doing so, we urge the Police to uphold citizen’s constitutional rights.
Non-adherence to physical distancing
We continue to receive reports indicating non-adherence to lockdown and public health protocols in communities. This is disturbing considering that lately, we have witnessed an increase in cases of community transmission. Further to the information we shared yesterday, we have received more reports from St Mary’s Chitungwiza, Chivi Central and Karoi, indicating violation of lockdown measures. In Karoi, our networks have attributed to this to the opening of the Tobacco Auction floors, which has seen an increase in movement activities by farmers, who most of the time fail to observe social distancing.
- This raises concern, noting that recently the Nation has been recording a number of community-transmission cases.
- We therefore urge the public to remain alive to and uphold the safety and hygiene protocols for curbing spread of COVID-19.
Food and price hikes
We continue to note reports from our grassroots networks, on hunger and hardships in communities, in both, rural and urban settings. Further noting reports on price hikes of basic commodities such as cooking oil, sugar and flour.
Fully aware of the magnitude through which the lockdown has severely affected households, and individual’s earning capacities, understanding that women are part of the vulnerable section that has been seriously impoverished;
- We continue to remind Government, of 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.
- We urge the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and also the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe to investigate cases of illegal price hikes of basic commodities.
- Furthermore, we continue to 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.
Health-care rights under threat
Remaining concerned with reports which continue to pour in of incidents where women have been denied their right to access health care services, including reproductive health and immunisation -care at various clinics and hospitals.
In Mvuma, our networks have reported drug shortages at Mvuma Hospital, further citing that they are prompted to travel to Gweru to purchase certain medication. Additionally, our networks report the inability for communicates to access health care services is being exacerbated by lack of public transport to health centres. Our networks report in Mvuma, that travelling to Gweru, is averagely costing $4USD, using mshika-shika transport, as ZUPCO is not operating in the area. The same crisis is also being noted by our networks in Guruve, Mushumbi and Mahuwe areas. In Bulawayo, Ward 23, it has been reported that women are facing challenges in accessing sanitary wear, as pads have become scarce;
- We continue to urge the State and health authorities to fight the temptation to de-prioritize other health-care services, with the intention to solely focus on COVID-19.
- Buttressing numerous calls, we have made previously, we bring to the fore section 76 of the constitution, which guarantees the right to health care as a fundamental human right, and mandates the State to ensure progressive realization of this right.
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)