On Thursday 28 May 2020 which was day 60 of the national lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and has been in place since 30 March 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported an increase in the number of confirmed cases to one hundred and forty-nine (149). The number of cumulative tests done stood at forty thousand eight hundred and forty-seven (40 847). Of these, forty thousand six hundred and ninety-eight (40 698) were negative. The number of recoveries also increased to twenty-eight (28) and the death toll remains 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 into this report.
On 28 May 2020, Local authorities in Chitungwiza and Harare embarked on a COVID-19 disinfection process on crowded places in their areas. It was reported that the Chitungwiza Town Council disinfected Chigovanyika shopping centre, Huruyadzo, Zengeza 2, then Zengeza market (Chikwanha), Jambanja, Unit L and Makoni. Harare City Council disinfected Njere Car Park at Mbare Musika.
It was reported that the government has decentralised COVID-19 testing with areas such as Tsholotsho and Lupane receiving gene-expert machines. According to the Director of laboratory services in the Ministry of Health and Childcare Douglas Mangwanya, Bulawayo province is ow capable of conducting 400 tests per day.
In Highfield, it was reported that soldiers and police officers raided informal traders in Gazaland. It was reported that informal traders who were caught paid USD5 bribes to police officers and soldiers for them to be exonerated. The initial raids were conducted in the morning, however, law enforcement agents continued to maintain their presence throughout the day. The law enforcement officers were also seen patrolling other areas in Highfield such as Shirichena shops. The increase in the enforcement of the lockdown in Highfield comes at the background of two (2) consecutive days of defiance to police orders from informal traders.
It was also reported that an army truck carrying soldiers deployed to enforce the COVID-19 lockdown order in Mashonaland East province was involved in an accident on 25 May. It is alleged that the army truck was chasing a commuter omnibus in Murewa ferrying people towards Mutawatawa. The truck veered off the road during the pursuit. Reports of military or civilian casualties could not be ascertained.
Zimbabwe Republic Police Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Spokesperson, Inspector Abednico Ncube stated that police officers in Bulawayo impounded 120 vehicles during the lockdown related to the violation of COVID-19 lockdown regulations. The offences range from loading at undesignated points, transporting passengers without observing social distancing and other safety regulations.
Right to water
Community Water Alliance (CWA) has raised alarm over the escalating water crisis in most parts of Harare, Chitungwiza, Masvingo, Bulawayo and Gweru. According to the observations made by CWA, the majority of local authorities are producing below half of the daily water demand. CWA also identified the water delivery crisis has become a burden on women and that it has compromised community health conditions, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. The observations by CWA show compromised hygiene standards within suburbs such as Hatcliffe, Budiriro and Glen View and the majority of suburbs in Bulawayo. CWA strongly encouraged stakeholders to prioritize Bulawayo, Harare, Masvingo and Gweru for immediate intervention to the provision of water in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mandatory testing and quarantine
The Minister of Defence, Security and War Veteran’s Association Oppah Muchinguri who is also the national COVID 19 taskforce deputy chairperson advised Parliament on 28 May that more than 3 000 more returnees were expected into the country in the next week. The returnees will be coming from neighbouring countries and abroad. This comes at a time when the government is incapacitated to deal with the influx of returnees due to the shortage of quarantine facilities.
It was reported that some of the buildings at Plumtree High School which is currently serving as a quarantine facility for 116 returnees were torched by fire. According to the Provincial Chairperson of the Civil Protection Department, Ms Sithandiwe Ncube through a statement, the worst affected buildings include the learning institution’s Beit-Hall. The cause of the fire is not yet not confirmed. This incident came at a time when the government is struggling with an influx of returnees vis a vis the available quarantine facilities.
The Habakkuk Trust has also reported on the deplorable living conditions at various quarantine centres around the country. The report states that there is overcrowding, inadequate food and blankets, inadequate water and sanitation facilities, lack of medical care to pregnant women and others with general illnesses that require attention. Social distancing was not being regarded and old and new returnees are mixed without the necessary tests conducted in time. There are also concerns of safety of property and individuals, as some centres are also holding former convicts released from South Africa and Botswana. The report also states that relatives of those at the centres are not allowed to give them any supplies. These deplorable conditions have prompted others to escape from the facilities.
Re-opening of academic institutions
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe’s (PTUZ) Secretary-General Raymond Majongwe advised through his official Twitter page that teachers’ unions and representatives will meet with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education on 29 May to discuss the reopening of schools and possible challenges that will be faced by teachers and learners.
The Political Actors Dialogue called on the government to investigate the alleged abductions of three female MDC Alliance officials and make the findings public. POLAD’s chairman of the legislative and governance committee Professor Lovemore Madhuku accompanied by Ms Lucia Matibenga met with President Mnangagwa on 28 May where they made the request.
Reopening of the informal sector update
The Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) issued a statement indicating that vendors and informal traders living with disabilities are among the worst affected group by the national lockdown. Through their statement, BVTA indicated that most of the vendors and informal traders with disabilities have been left unemployed with no stable income to feed themselves and their families. Further, vendors living with disabilities also face challenges in accessing subsidised mealie meal as their physical limitations do not allow them to scramble with the able-bodied to buy the scarce staple.
Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 28 May 2020.
|Nature of Violation||Number of Victims||Location|
|Assault||258||Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare, Marondera, Beitbridge, Domboshava, Wengezi|
|Attack on Journalists||16||Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Beitbridge|
|Arrests||370||Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mwenezi, Guruve, Hwange, Murwi|
|Malicious Damage to Property||2||Harare, Chitungwiza|
Harare Magistrate Barbara Mateko granted bail to the honourable Member of Parliament for Harare West Joana Mamombe together with MDC Alliance Youth Assembly leaders Cecelia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova. Mateko ordered the trio to pay ZWL1 000 each to the clerk of court at Harare Magistrate Court and to report once a week at Harare Central Police Station. She also ordered that the trio should continue residing at their given residential addresses and not interfere with state witnesses until their matter is finalised. The case will be heard in court on 13 August 2020 for trial on charges related to participating in an illegal demonstration during the national lockdown. The three were allegedly abducted on 13 May 2020 after a demonstration by the MDC Alliance in Warren Park and were found in Bindura South after the alleged torture.
It has been 60 days since the national lockdown was implemented in Zimbabwe. The lockdown has worked to exacerbate already compromised social, economic and political conditions existing in the country. The cash assistance that the government promised to disburse to those in need is yet to be made. If the government is genuine in curbing the pandemic, it must deliver on its promise to assist those in need. The Forum, therefore, remind the government of the need to put in place meaningful and effective strategies to ensure that food security, access to water and medical care are available to all.
The Forum also urges the government to work on improving the management of designated quarantine centres so that they do not become epicentres for the coronavirus in the country.
Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)