62 days into the lockdown, and we continue to witness an unprecedented increase of the COVID-19 positive cases. The Ministry of Health and Child Care reports that as at 29 May, the total number of confirmed cases stands at 160, having recorded 11 new cases.
Critical Emerging Issues
1. Lack of Social distancing at funerals, churches and social events
Growing reports from our networks indicate continued non-adherence to social distancing and other containment measures. This trend has been noted generally throughout the country, with leading areas such as Bindura Trojan Mine area, Chivi Central, Caledonia and Bulawayo.
We note that this could be attributed to lockdown fatigue, and also the need to strike a balance between adherence and household livelihood demands.
We reiterate the concerns of poor adherence to social distancing and restrictions of numbers of persons attending funerals in rural communities. We remind rural communities that COVID-19 is not an urban disease.
Reports further indicate some congregants in the religious sector seem to have disregarded social distancing measures by resuming church gatherings;
- We therefore call on Government to reiterate its position on social distancing and public gatherings, specifically funerals and churches.
- We call upon District COVID-19 Taskforce teams to strengthen their enforcement of person limits to rural community funerals and social events.
2. Public transport challenges
Communities continue to face challenges in accessing public transport, such as in Mvuma, Guruve, and Chivhu. Communities that are not in urban communities are not able to access the ZUPCO public transport program and their transport needs remain unmet and underserviced.
This inadequate provision of ZUPCO buses is driving high demand and return of the illegal pirate taxi’s “mshika-mshika” to resume operations. The lack of capacity by ZUPCO to meet the growing demands of commuters is a cause for concern, which requires to be addressed urgently before transport hubs and ZUPCO services become points of high-risk exposure to potential infection.
Regardless of the process of transforming the public transport system in Zimbabwe, the Government will still need to provide, public transport health guidelines, as a mix of transport service providers will always be part of the national public transport system.
- We continue to call upon the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and also the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development to enhance the capacity of the public transport system to cater for the high demand by the public.
- We therefore continue to raise alarm on the risks posed by the public transport system in spreading the COVID-19.
3. Safety of children and child justice
The indefinite lockdown under level 2, together with the sharp rise in COVID-19 positive cases, the position on the re-opening of the education sector has become blurred and uncertain.
Therefore, appreciating that pupils may end up spending more time at home than originally anticipated, and alive to the increased threat to the safety of children as they may be exposed to paedophiles, brutal beatings and child labour;
We continue to call upon Government and Civil Society Organisations to respond to such risks by
- Ensuring that helplines for children remain fully functional
- Prioritising funding shelters and other places of safety for survivors
- Expanding critical services for children and ensuring accessibility.
4. Conditions in Mandatory Quarantine and Isolation Centres
The number of returnees, including women and children, travelling back to Zimbabwe and proceeding to mandatory quarantine centres continue to grow.
Concerned of reports from persons who have left mandatory quarantine centres who are reporting;
- the sharing of water buckets between 17 people.
- the provision of one meal a day.
- rampant theft of their personal belonging.
- poor communication and information by Government staffers.
- the stigmatisation of persons in quarantine centres as persons unduly expecting “too much” from the state in terms of standards in mandatory quarantine and isolation centres.
- the fear of the reprisals as Government has all their personal details including information regarding their families.
Concerned with the risks and vulnerabilities faced by such women, children, persons living with disabilities held in quarantine;
We urge Government to enhance the provision of:
- Access to applicable and supportive ameliorative services for women, the elderly, children, and persons living with disabilities in quarantine.
- Appropriate and adequate provision of water and sanitization.
- Applicable safety and security measures in place at centres to address the complex blend of returning residents and
- Access to services, including adequate sexual and reproductive health services, to both men and women without stigma.
We call upon the Parliament of Zimbabwe to urgently deploy Members of Parliament to undertake inspections at these mandatory centres and provide necessary oversight of processes in the centres and critical public interest feedback.
We call upon the Chapter 12 Commissions to undertake inspections visits to the mandatory centres to ensure that the rights of all persons in these centres are respected.
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)