Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report 18 May 2020 – Day 50

Introduction

On Saturday 16 May, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the extension of the Level 2 lockdown implemented on 3 May 2020, which was meant to expire on 17 May 2020. The President indicated that Level 2 lockdown will continue indefinitely, to allow the nation to gradually ease out of the lockdown while minimising the risk of sudden increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

On 18 May, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that nine hundred and fifty-eight (958) tests were conducted. This increased the cumulative tests to twenty-nine thousand two hundred and twenty-seven (29 227). Of these, twenty-nine thousand one hundred and eighty-one (29 181) were negative. The number of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases remained at forty-six (46) while the recoveries remained at eighteen (18). Deaths remain at four (4).

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 Community Radio Harare have also been incorporated in this report.

Emerging issues

General updates

The visiting team of medical experts from China visited Mashonaland East Province where they shared experiences and ideas on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The team visited Marondera Provincial Hospital as well as Mahusekwa District Hospital. Similarly, on 14 May, the team visited Wilkins Hospital in Harare where they also shared experiences ideas with the hospital’s medical staff.

Transport problems continue to plague community members traveling to and from work. At Copacabana and Market Square Ranks in Harare, commuters were observed around 8pm waiting for transport. Commuters indicated that they are waking up as early as 3am so that they could to get to work in time. Some reported that they are reaching their respective homes after 10pm. The transport situation is a result of the government directive to only allow ZUPCO buses and ZUPCO operated commuter omnibuses while banning private commuter omnibus operators. This decision by the government has increased the demand for transport on the few ZUPCO buses and commuter omnibuses that are operating nationwide. The ongoing fuel problems have also limited the number of people using their private vehicles.

Parliament’s Primary and Secondary Education Committee met with top officials from the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) on 18 May to discuss preparations for the June 2020 examinations as well as health concerns vis-a-vis COVID-19 pandemic. ZIMSEC director Dr. Lazarus Nembaware indicated that the exam body was waiting for the decision pertaining to the exact date as to when June examinations will start.

In Guruve, it was reported that cases of malaria are on the rise in Mupangavanhu Village. It has been noted that malaria shares some of the highly recognisable symptoms with COVID-19 such as fever, difficulty in breathing, fatigue and headaches of acute onset. Thus, a COVID-19 case may be misclassified as malaria and vice versa.

It was reported that in most parts of Luveve in Bulawayo, tap water is only available for one (1) day a week. This has resulted in overcrowding at community boreholes. Some people have also resorted to unprotected sources of water for domestic use.

Zimbabwe has been on lockdown for fifty (50) days. Informal traders have raised serious concern over the extended period of unproductivity. Informal traders in Mbare have resorted to selling their products at night to evade law enforcement officers.

The right to food

In Gokwe, it was reported that most of the shops were refusing to accept the local currency in favour of foreign currency. The refusal of the local currency comes after the government introduced the new 10- and 20-dollar notes. Community members in Gokwe have indicated that they are unable to afford food due to the scarcity of foreign currency. Similarly, in Tsholotsho, it was reported that prices of basic commodities have also increased with most shops also accepting only foreign currency. Shops in the area are charging fifty-five South African rands (R55) for a 2kg packet of sugar, eighty South Africa rands (R80) for a 10kg bag of mealie meal, while a 750ml bottle of cooking oil costs forty rands (R40).

At Mai Musodzi Hall in Mbare, legislator Starman Chamisa together with local councillors were distributing mealie meal to vulnerable people. Similar food distributions were conducted in Beitbridge by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare at Zezani. It was reported that social distancing was maintained and most people were wearing face masks.

Destruction of vending stalls

It was reported that Goromonzi Rural Council and Zimbabwe Republic Police officers destroyed vending stalls and houses built on unserviced land at Mungate and Mverechena. Community members particularly vendors complained that they were not given a warning for the property destruction. Furniture and goods were destroyed during the demolitions.

Mandatory testing and quarantine

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana indicated on of one of the returnees quarantined at Mkoba Teachers College has passed away. He reported that the deceased was a 31-year-old woman though the cause of death is not yet established.

It was reported that in Beitbridge, the cumulative total of returnees quarantined at the Rainbow Hotel is 282 while the total number of discharged returnees is 214. Eight (8) people absconded the quarantine facilities in Beitbridge. In Matebeleland North, most quarantine centres are now overcrowded. At Lupane State University, 114 returnees are quarantined against a capacity of 88. Mabhikwa High School which has 22 returnees quarantined still requires blankets, toiletries and food for the returnees.

In Midlands, Mkoba Teachers College received another 89 returning residents, 48 came from South Africa and 41 from Botswana bringing the total number of quarantined returning residence in the province to 358.

Arrests

At Mkoba 6 Shopping Centre in Gweru, twelve (12) people were arrested by police officers on patrol for not wearing face masks. The arrested people were taken to a police post in Mkoba 6 were they paid an admission of guilt fine of ZWL200 before being released. This came after police officers in Mkoba 6 had running battles with vendors and money changers who refused the directive by police officers to return to their homes as they did not have face masks.

Scores of people were also arrested along Sam Nunjoma Street in Harare as they were looking for transport to go to various areas including Mazowe, Bindura and Mt Darwin among others. They were charged with defying the lockdown regulations and were taken to Harare Central Police Station where they were made to pay an admission of guilty fine of ZWL500 before release.

Attack on journalists

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) reported that NewsDay journalist Rex Mphisa and Zimpapers sales representative Charles Marerwa were arrested in Dulibadzimu in Beitbridge on 15 May 2020 and charged with contravening COVID-19 regulations. Mphisa and Marerwa spent the night in police cells. They were subsequently charged on 16 May with contravening section 5 (1) as read with section 4 of Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020 of the COVID-19 regulations. The two were released on free bail and are set to appear in court on 4 June 2020.

Summary of violations

The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 17 May 2020.

Nature of ViolationNumber of VictimsLocation
Assault245Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare, Marondera, Beitbridge, Domboshava
Attack on Journalists14Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Beitbridge
Arrests333Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mwenezi, Guruve, Hwange, Mvurwi
Malicious Damage to Property2Harare, Chitungwiza
Missing persons/Abductions3Harare

Court update

Relatives of Levison Ncube, a victim of police assault, have filed a notice of intention to sue the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage and the Commissioner-General of Police for compensation for his wrongful death at the hands of the police. Levison died from haemorrhage and head trauma when Zimbabwe Republic Police officers assaulted him for alleged violation of lockdown regulations.

Conclusion

The economic impact of the protracted lockdown on the majority of Zimbabweans who are informal traders should be the government’s focus. The greater majority of traders, including operators of commuter omnibuses, remain banned. The Forum, therefore, calls on the government to put in place mechanisms to help those in need of subsistence assistance.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)

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