On Sunday 31 May 2020 which marked day 63 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 seventy-eight (178). The number of cumulative tests done stood at forty-five thousand three hundred and ninety-five (45 395). Of these, forty-five thousand two hundred and seventeen (45 217) were negative. The number of recoveries remained at twenty-nine (29) and the death toll remains at four (4).
The Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on COVID-19 which is headed by Vice-President Kembo Mohadi and is mandated to update the country on the regular fortnightly reviews of the indefinite national lockdown announced by President Mnangagwa. According to the regulations, the President will only address the nation when necessary. The first two-week interval expired on 31 May 2020. However, there are no indications of when the review will be announced.
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.
Nationally, some members of the apostolic sect congregated to worship. In Chinhoyi, ZRP officers dispersed members of the Johani Masowe eChishanu where more than 120 people had congregated. Similar reports were received from Chitungwiza were some churches have resorted to holding small cell groups to adhere to the regulations relating to the number of gathering people. However, in most of the cell groups, congregants do not exercise social distance and most of them do not wear face masks.
In Masvingo, it was reported that ZANU PF was distributing food to its members. The beneficiaries received parboiled rice. The food distribution was facilitated by a ZANU PF secretary for one of the wards, a Mrs Chikwanda. The food distribution did not benefit people from other political parties. It was unclear if the food distribution was from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare or it was purely a ZANU PF initiative.
In Mabvuku and Tafara, the Harare City Council demolished vending stalls and other illegal structures. The structures included tuckshops and workshops used by informal traders.
It was reported that COVID-19 aid has resurfaced on the black market in some high-density suburbs. The aid includes on-demand groceries such as rice, cooking oil, sugar, salt, soya chunks and mealie-meal. In the Harare suburbs of Highfield, Epworth and Southlea Park, some of the items that are being sold are labelled “Not for Sale” indicating that the food items were meant to be distributed at no cost as food aid.
According to a statement released by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), low-risk sports disciplines will resume on 1 June 2020. The low-risk sports activities include tennis, golf, archery, and motorsport among others. However, citizens and sports clubs have to apply through the Sports and Recreation Commission for approval to host sporting events. The sporting events also have to adhere strictly to the provisions of Statutory Instrument 115 of 2020 and related legislation concerning the containment of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe which include social distance, frequent hygiene and wearing personal protective clothing. The sporting events are also subject to any additional guidelines that may be issued from time to time by the SRC.
A week ago, we reported that a section of Banket District Hospital was razed by fire. Though there were no fatalities reported, the District Medical Officer for Zvimba District Dr. Terence Dandadzi has now indicated that the section of the hospital that was destroyed had COVID-19 donations for other district hospitals in Zvimba. The donations included personal protective equipment (PPEs) and sanitizers.
Mandatory testing and quarantine
In Beitbridge, residents raised alarm over the hiring of quarantined women to cook for their colleagues. It was highlighted that the women are allowed to leave the quarantine centres to buy food items to prepare in the quarantine centres. The residents raised alarm as they are not sure if the women being allowed to leave the quarantine centres have been tested and have received their results. There is fear that if infected and results are still unknown, they will likely infect other civilians whom they interact with while purchasing food items. There is therefore need for this to be stopped.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana reported that in line with the plans to re-open schools, Marondera High School now only has 1 returnee who is still in quarantine there while the others have been transferred to other quarantine facilities in the Province. Fifty (50) other returnees from Marondera High School who tested negative for COVID-19 were discharged from quarantine and were provided with transport to their homes.
In Umzingwane District in Matabeleland South, it was reported that four (4) Zimbabweans who illegally entered the country from South Africa to attend a funeral have been placed in mandatory quarantine at Esikhoveni Training Institute after community members raised alarm over their presence. This comes after more than 120 returnees escaped from quarantine centres nationally.
It was reported that protests broke out at COVID-19 isolation centres for returning residents in Harare and Masvingo. It was alleged that returnees demanded to be released due to the poor living conditions at the facilities. At Masvingo Teachers’ College, returnees protested demanding to be addressed by representatives of the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and health officials due to the living conditions. In Harare at Queen Elizabeth High School isolation centre, anti-riot police were called to quell a volatile situation when women housed there threatened to riot in protest against poor living conditions.
In Gweru, police officers arrested eight (8) illegal foreign currency dealers close to Chicken Inn in the CBD. The arrested persons were taken to Gweru Central Police Station where they were fined ZWL200. Meanwhile, two (2) more people were arrested at Kudzanayi Bus Terminus in Mkoba for unnecessary loitering. It was reported that the 2 people failed to produce exemption letters to police officers leading to their arrest. The 2 were later released without charge.
Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 31 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||380||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|
Confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to increase amid consultations to reopen schools and the resumption of sporting activities. Though the majority of the cases involve returnees, the number of people illegally crossing the border from neighbouring countries is worrying especially in Beitbridge. The Forum urges the government to improve the conditions in quarantine facilities to curb protests and further escapes by returnees. Further, the Forum is concerned about reports of growing police and military presence in quarantine facilities which has seemingly turned them into concentration camps. Though security is important, law enforcement agents should only serve to protect the returnees rather than assault them.
The Forum is also concerned with reports of the distribution of food aid on a political basis. Further, the Forum is outraged over the selling of food aid on the black market. The Forum, therefore, calls upon the government to investigate these reports and act against offenders.
Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)