46 Days into the lockdown, and Zimbabwe is left with exactly 3 days before the expiry of the lockdown. The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare reported that as at 13 May 2020, cumulatively a total of 13 699 rapid screening tests and 11 191 PCR diagnostic tests had been conducted. To date, a total of 37 cases have been confirmed as COVID-19 positive. The low number in testing is alarming, especially with reports indicating that Bulawayo has suspended testing due to shortages of test-kits.
Reports from across the country continue to indicate hunger and lack of social protection mechanisms to alleviate economic shocks on affected vulnerable households. Over and again, we have cautioned the authorities that the level upon which citizens will cooperate with lockdown measures is solely dependent on the commitment of the State to ensure the progressive realisation of citizens’ right to water and food during the COVID-19. Failure to do so, would lead to defiance on the part of the citizenry. True to the warning, recently in Harare we witnessed flash mobs protesting over food shortages, defying social distancing and lockdown law.
We however raise alarm over the disappearance of 3 women, Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marowa who were part of the protest. Concerned with their safety and lack of information pertaining to their whereabouts, we urge the authorities, particularly the Zimbabwe Republic Police, to immediately investigate the matter and establish the three’s whereabouts. In the same breadth, we call upon the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to act swiftly in closely monitoring and investigating the circumstances around the disappearances of these three women.
While we understand that over 20 persons, the majority being men, participated in the protest. We therefore seek answers as to why these 3 women were separated from the rest. Have they been targeted for no other reason, than that they are simply women? We do not condone violence or intimidation targeted at women and we urge the Zimbabwe Gender Commission to work with the other institutions outlined, in establishing the circumstances surrounding this incident.
Critical Emerging issues
1. Food and Hunger
Concerned with the growing number of households and individuals facing hunger as reported by our networks, we remain extremely troubled with the implications of delaying the rollout of the food grant programs.
Further distressed by the slowing down of deliveries in the subsidised maize meal delivery system, and noting that this has exposed additional households to hunger as they are unable to access the basic food staple.
- We urge that the vetting process of person signed up to the program does not promote and facilitate the exclusion of other deserving members of society.
- We continue therefore to demand a public and open registration system for vulnerability grants that support the largest number of citizens to sign up for the applicable social protection grants.
- We further call upon Government to announce maize meal deliveries will resume, at full capacity and resumption of the community to community delivery system, which in turn was supporting door-to-door access of the scarce commodity
2. Resumption of Public sporting and exercise activities
We note with concern the growing number of the community based exercise groups and informal sporting clubs who have begun or resumed exercise and sporting activities predominately in Harare and Bulawayo,
We note that in some instances participants are wearing masks and attempting to respect social distancing
We raise the weakness in the current state of the lockdown which is very loose and may have given rise to the impression that lockdown was over to members of the public who are seeing a high increase in resumption of socio-economic activities;
- We seek to remind these social groupings that their activities consist of violations of the COVID-19 Lockdown measures which remain in place until the 17th of May 2020.
- We urge Government to publicly state the ban on exercise in public spaces.
- We urge Government to also set and publicise specific guidelines for the personal care services such as;
- hair salons, nail salons and barbers,
- body massages and wellness body treatments,
- gyms and exercise clubs
3. Water shortages
Remaining concerned with the dire water situation currently obtaining throughout the country.
Particularly, distressed with reports from our networks in Warren Park and Mkoba 4 and ward 15, where communities are accessing water from unsafe sources;
Remaining distressed an the failure of Government to date to publicise a comprehensive water and sanitation plan to comprehensively address the lack of water across the country and strengthen the resilience of the Zimbabwe from current and potential humanitarian crises;
- Noting that water is a universal human right, guaranteed by the Supreme law of the land;
- We reinforce our calls upon 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.
1. Holistic Enforcement of COVID19 Measures
We continue to note with concern that messaging and enforcement of COVID-19 measures and been fixated to ensuring adherence to mandatory mask wearing, it has not been extended to adherence and enforcement of physical and social distancing measures in the transition into Level 2, particularly in the public transport nodes, rural areas and markets. The unbalanced focus on mandatory mask wearing is coming at a cost of other COVID-19 preventative methods; Concerned that failure to adequately observe social and physical distancing may erode all the gains recorded so far in the COVID-19 battle;
- We continue to remind the Government and businesses that physical and social distancing remain critical COVID-19 prevention measures and should not be relaxed in an effort to resume livelihoods.
- We urge the general populace to fortify their efforts in maintaining both mask wearing and physical distancing in every environment which may include work, food markets, public transport or supermarkets.
2. Provision of Psychosocial Support
Remaining distressed with the levels of the trauma that personnel in the healthcare service sector are undergoing and the real concerns of operating without access to sufficient level of PPE.
Noting similarly, the trauma of persons screened for COVID19 and their loved one as there are tested, await and receive results.
Noting that the current protocols do not address the need to provide counselling to health personnel nor is there any counselling for potential suspect COVID-19 cases and their families.
- We buttress our calls upon Government to ensure urgent provision of the counselling to both healthcare workers and persons screened and tested for COVID-19.
- We therefore continue to call upon the Government to deploy social workers and community case care workers to address heightened household and community level need for psychosocial support and strengthened social cohesion practises.
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)