Tuesday 19 May 2020 was day 51 of the national lockdown which was declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and has been in place since 30 March 2020. The lockdown was extended indefinitely on 16 May 2020 and remains on what the President called Level 2 which allows the nation to gradually ease out of the lockdown while minimising the risk of sudden increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
On 19 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).
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.
In Chitungwiza, it was reported that some teachers have resorted to conducting extra lessons at a cost ranging from ZWL500 per week in their homes. It was reported that students are being taught from as early as 5.30 am – 7 am to avoid detection by law enforcement officers.
In Nyanga at Avilla Mission, pregnant women in the maternity ward were requested to pay USD60 for them to be transported to Nyanga District Hospital. It was reported that Avilla Mission currently does not have midwives hence the need to transport pregnant women to Nyanga District Hospital. Given the current economic conditions which have been acerbated by the COVID-19 lockdown, most women cannot afford the transportation cost. Some of the women resorted to using ox-drawn scotch carts for their transportation.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana reported that per the latest regulations, low risk sports are now allowed to take place, provided those competing and those spectating have been screened and tested for COVID-19. According to the regulations, low risk sports include archery, tennis, golf, motorsports, darts and. The gatherings should not exceed 50 people.
In the Harare suburb of Glenview, community members who were not wearing face masks were denied entry into shops. It was also reported that most of the people loitering in the streets were not wearing face mask, including police officers who were enforcing the lockdown. At Specimen Shopping Centre, scores of vendors were observed from as early as 7am, and there were running battles with law enforcement officers in the area. Drug abuse has been reported in the area due to the inactivity of youths most of whom are informal traders and touts who have since been rendered redundant by the current COVID-19 measures.
The Masvingo Mirror reported that twelve (12) employees from Gonarezhou National Park have tested positive to COVID-19 following tests done on Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) kits at a private laboratory in Chiredzi. The 12 were among 62 employees from Gonarezhou who went for mandatory Pre-Industrial tests at Lancet Laboratory. However, the cases have not yet been confirmed by the Ministry of Health and Child Care as the workers were then subjected to the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests whose results were still pending.
The right to food and water
Water challenges continue to plague high density suburbs nationally. In Majange in Masvingo, Tynward, Tafara, Kambuzuma, Glenview and Kuwadzana in Harare, residents receive tap water at most two days a week. Various stakeholders including the Harare City Council have resorted to providing water bowsers for residence to acquire potable water. However, chaos has constantly erupted as residence try to fetch water from the bowsers. Social distancing measures are not followed as people try their chances of getting supply.
In some areas, such as Magwegwe in Bulawayo, community members wake up as early as 3am to fetch water at community boreholes.
In Bindura, it was reported that vulnerable community members are on the verge of starvation since the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare has stopped conducting food distributions in the area. It was reported that the elderly and the disabled only received ZWL179,99 cash pay-outs via OneMoney mobile money service on 26 April. Given the continuous increase in prices of basic commodities, the money they received as part of the COVID-19 relief program cannot sustain them for any meaningful period.
Destruction of vending stalls and property
In Mbare in Harare, vendors and informal traders whose vending stalls were demolished have started to trickle back to their vending and trading sites. The government promised to allocate vendors new vending sites. However, the indefinite extension of the Level 2 national lockdown is seeing some vendors gradually beginning to trade illegally. Running battles between law enforcement officers and informal traders are now the order of the day.
In Epworth in Harare, more than twenty families including children at Domboremaziso were left homeless after the Epworth Local Board demolished their homes to pave way for other construction. The residents claim that they were not served any notice of eviction. Residence were observed removing whatever remained of construction materials including roofing sheets and windowpanes. The incident has left residents exposed to low temperatures precipitated by the winter season.
Mandatory testing and quarantine
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana indicated four (4) returnees from South Africa, believed to have been recently released from prison, are now quarantined for an unspecified period in Remand Prison after their arrest for theft and violence while at a quarantine centre in Beitbridge.
Mangwana also reported that Madziwa Teachers College quarantine centre in Mashonaland Central now has a total of 41 returnees. Six (6) new returnees arrived – 2 from Botswana, 3 from South Africa and 1 from Mozambique – as the latest additions at the centre. Twenty (20) people at the centre are awaiting their test results.
In Mashonaland West, Chegutu District’s Mupfure College quarantine centre is now operational. The quarantine centre received 3 females and a baby boy from South Africa and Mozambique.
Transport challenges continue to plague community members traveling to work. In Glenview, community members indicated that ZUPCO bus operators are not adhering to the COVID-19 measures relating to social distancing. Community members also indicated that ZUPCO buses are not adhering to the requisite timetables. This has fuelled delays and long queues of passengers at the majority of bus termini. The situation has been worsened by the fact that only a few ZUPCO buses are in operation. In Harare CBD, long queues of people waiting for ZUPCO busses and transport were observed. Some people ended up walking to their respective homes in Mbare and Sunningdale. Many have called on the government to take introduce more ZUPCO busses and to reintroduce commuter omnibuses.
Amidst the transport challenges, a joint operation by the army and police officers cleared the Harare CBD around 5.30 pm. It was reported that the operation was implemented in response to the continuous defiance of the national lockdown by citizens in the Harare CBD. Most food outlets particularly Pizza Inn were swamped with customers as a result of a weekly promotion.
Update on the abduction and torture of MDC Alliance youth leaders
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) issued a press statement dated 18 May 2020 on the abduction and torture of Harare West MP Joana Mamombe together with MDC Alliance Youth Assembly leaders Cecelia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova. The Commission indicated that it had launched an investigation into the abduction and torture of the trio as articulated under section 243 (1), (d), (e) and (f) of the Constitution. The preliminary findings of their investigations confirm that the trio was indeed abducted, tortured and subjected to conditions that impaired their dignity. The Commission further condemned the abduction as a grave violation of the right to personal liberty guaranteed under section 49 of the Constitution. The ZHRC further noted that despite the violation of the national lockdown regulations by the trio, they were still entitled to their human dignity and other rights as articulated under section 50 of the Constitution for the rights of arrested and detained persons.
To this effect, the ZHRC recommended that ZRP officers respect human rights of arrested persons by not assaulting or torturing suspects. The Commission recommended that the MDC Alliance appraises their members of the lockdown regulations and to resort to lawful means of resolving grievances. The ZHRC further recommended that the government of Zimbabwe ratifies the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment. The ZHRC also recommended the Parliament to operationalisation the Independent Complaints Mechanism to receive and investigate complaints from the public about the misconduct of members of the security services and remedying any harm caused by such misconduct as articulated under section 210 of the Constitution. The Commission further called upon members of the public with relevant information pertaining to the abduction and torture of the trio to contact the Commission.
Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 19 May 2020.
|Nature of Violation||Number of Victims||Location|
|Assault||245||Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare, Marondera, Beitbridge, Domboshava|
|Attack on Journalists||14||Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Beitbridge|
|Arrests||333||Masvingo, 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 Property||2||Harare, Chitungwiza|
The Forum calls on the government and local authorities to provide potable water for community members since COVID-19 measures require constant hygiene. The Forum also reiterates the need to improve the transport situation in the country to allow social distancing in public transport. In light of food shortages, the Forum calls upon the government to increase the distribution of food aid under the COVID-19 food relief program.
Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)