64 days into the lockdown, and the number of COVID-19 positive cases continue to soar. The Ministry of Health and Child Care reports that as at 31 May, the total number of confirmed cases stood at 178, after 4 new cases were recorded from returnees.
We reiterate our concerns of the conditions within the mandatory quarantine centres which indicate the real and present danger of the conditions within quarantine centres being drivers of infection among the retuning resident population.
Further aggravated by the ongoing stigmatisation of returnees as persons who are “bringing” COVID-19 to communities. We raise in this context, the multiple reports of persons testing positive, covered by the printed press, in both state papers and privately owned papers, who are not catered for within the numbers of persons listed in the Government statistics thus far, which indicate cases of domestic transmission. We thereby call for the Government to address this reporting anomaly with urgency.
We reiterate the grave concerns regarding the poor conditions in the mandatory quarantine and isolation centres, which we consider to be critical underlying factors which need to be addressed to reduce the risk of abscondment within the retuning resident population. We accordingly call upon Government to resist adopting and strengthening an overly securitised response to addressing the returning resident population.
Further we urge the Government to desist from creating an impression that all returning residents have the financial standing to afford and demand luxury services and high costs testing and other services. Not all Zimbabweans who have been outside of the country, are in the diaspora, as wealthy high net worth individuals.
Critical Emerging Issues
1. Failure to Review lockdown
Gravely concerned with Government’s failure to announce publicly the National Review Level 2 extension as per the announcement 2 weeks ago which provided the first review of the indefinite lockdown was due on Sunday the 31st of May 2020.
Noting that such neglect leads to loss of confidence and trust in Government by the citizenry;
Additionally, concerned that failure to address the nation on the status of COVID-19 raises a great level of unnecessary speculation and undue uncertainty amongst citizens, especially those whose lives rely heavily on the informal sector, who are still taking the hardest hit of the restrictions in operations.
- We reiterate that Government should not merely abandon the nation under the guise of an indefinite’ lockdown, we therefore demand adheres to the publicly stated Government periodic reviews and public guidance on the state of the nation viz a viz COVID-19.
- We continue to recommend that any reviewing actions to be taken by Government, should be informed by consultations on citizens, and interested stakeholders.
2. Delay in implementing social protection measures
We continue to note a general sense of discontent and disgruntlement by the communities over the delays in the implementation of social protection measures by Government.
We reiterate once more that the indefinite restrictions on the operations of the informal sector, have crippled financial means for the majority of the citizens.
Noting that the cost of living continues to escalate out of reach of many;
- We call upon the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to expedite the implementation of social protection programs to alleviate economic shocks upon vulnerable households.
- We further call the State to order, particularly on its duty to ensure that citizens enjoy the progressive realisation of their right to food and water.
1. Report on COVID-19 Testing Capacity in the country
We continue to note growing reports highlighting shortages in COVID-19 test kits.
- We therefore urge the Ministry of Health and Child-Care to produce a report on the availability of test-kits in Zimbabwe
2. Report on the vulnerable namely, detainees and prisons populations
We continue to note that we are yet to receive a publicized report on the protection of vulnerable populations such as refugee camps and prison population;
Further aware that on a daily basis there are new entrants who are sent to remand prison from the outside world, where they may have been exposed to the virus and remain asymptomatic. We particularly note, with concern the arrest and processing of over 40 000 persons for violating COVID-19 Lockdown regulations entailing that police stations have processed over 40 000 persons and these persons were not subjected to the protocols of sanitizations and social distancing protocols during these processes.
Aware that most of our detention facilities and refugee camps may not be capacitated enough and that social distancing rules may be difficult to enforce.
- We buttress our calls upon Government to urgently publicize and implement a comprehensive crisis plan to cater for the rights, needs and safety of detainees in the COVID-19 era.
- We call for the direct support and to vulnerable detainees such as juveniles, pregnant women, persons with disabilities and those with underlying health conditions.
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)