Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report 2 June 2020 – Day 65

Introduction

On Tuesday 2 June 2020 which marked day 65 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 two hundred and six (206). The number of cumulative tests done stood at forty-eight thousand three hundred and ninety-two (48 392). Of these, forty-eight one hundred and eighty-six (48 186) were negative. The number of recoveries remained at twenty-nine (29) and the death toll remains at four (4). It has been three days since the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on COVID-19 headed by Vice-President Kembo Mohadi was supposed to address the nation on the fortnightly review. There are still no indications of when the review will be announced.

Methodology

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, The Herald and Bulawayo24 have also been incorporated into this report.

Emerging issues

General Updates

Law enforcement officers stepped up lockdown enforcement on 2 June 2020. In Harare, police and soldiers at various checkpoints turned away motorists and ordered morning commuters to disembark from ZUPCO buses and walk back home despite having exemption letters. Long queues were observed at most of the police checkpoints around Harare. Community members reported that only security services and medical professionals were allowed access into the CBD. Videos which circulated on social media showed scores of people walking back to their homes after being turned back by security officials at most of the checkpoints leading into the CBD.

In response to questions from citizens on Twitter, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana advised that police officers were enforcing level 2 lockdown regulations and that there was nothing amiss. This was followed by a statement on the ZRP official Twitter page advising members of the public to stay at home except for essential services, businesses in the formal commercial and industrial sectors.

In Dzivarasekwa, people who were standing at various bus stops were dispersed by soldiers in the morning around 9am. Police officers forced shops, food courts and other businesses to close in the CBD. By 3 pm, Harare CBD was disserted as people had returned to their homes. In Mabvuku and Tafara, soldiers and police officers forced community members to be in their houses by 6 pm.

In Mbare, running battles between vendors and the anti-riot police were reported at the farmers market. It was reported that vendors have been defying the stipulated time for them to sale their produce which led law enforcement officers to disperse the vendors. At Solani Shopping Centre in Epworth, it was also reported that vendors have resumed operations in the same areas they were dispersed from by the Epworth Local Board. It was also reported that some vendors have rebuilt vending stalls previously demolished by the Epworth Local Board. The resumption of duties in Epworth and the increasing defiance of the stipulated vending times at Mbare farmers markets have increased human traffic in these areas where most of the people do not observe COVID-19 regulations particularly wearing personal protective clothing.

Reports from Muzarabani indicate that people living with disabilities received food aid from Open your Heart Care Trust. It was reported that the majority of people in the area did not receive food aid from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to cushion them during the lockdown. Further people with disabilities have been unable to queue for subsidised mealie meal.

Through a press conference, ZANU-PF political commissar Victor Matemadanda advised that his party is preparing for a march to the United States Embassy on 4 June to show outrage against the killing of the unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis. He further invited Zimbabweans nationally to attend the march, indicating that necessary COVID-19 regulations will be adhered to during the march.

As transport challenges continue to plague citizens, the Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Mrs Monica Mutsvangwa announced a decision by made by Cabinet that ZUPCO buses are now allowed to carry more passengers under new government health guidelines to ease public transport challenges. Previously the carrying capacity for ZUPCO busses was 32, the capacity has since been increasd to ease transport problems. The new government regulations maintain the mandatory temperature testing, wearing of masks by passengers and the buses being disinfected and sanitised after every trip.

Lockdown enforcement

In Mkoba, Gweru, there was heavy presence of police and military personnel patrolling the streets in residential areas and the city centre. People with exemption letters were turned back unless they were security services or medical professionals. Checkpoints were mounted on all roads leading into Gweru CBD.

In Marondera, soldiers and police officers manning the checkpoint at Comoil Service Stattion along the main highway were barring people from travelling to Harare despite having exemption letters. Heavy deployment of law enforcement officers in most parts of Marondera were also observed.

Mandatory testing and quarantine

In Lupane, it was reported that eleven (11) returnees who escaped from Mabhikwa High School quarantine facility were arrested and fined ZWL2 000 by police officers at Lupane Central Police Station. However, it is unclear if all eleven paid the fines. It was reported that the returnees came from South Africa and Botswana. In a related matter, one of the four (4) women who fled from Vuti Quarantine Centre in Hurungwe on 28 May was arrested in Sanyati on 1 June.

In Harare, police officers were called in to quell a protest by returnees quarantined at Belvedere Teachers College. It was reported that the returnees protested over poor living conditions. A police truck with more than 20 anti-riot police officers was deployed to quell the protest.

Reopening of schools – update

The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) through a statement announced the date for the commencement of the Ordinary Level and Advanced Level June 2020 examinations and an extension of the November 2020 examinations registration deadline. ZIMSEC board chairperson Eddie Mwenje said June examinations will start on 30 June and end on 20 July for O’ Level and 23 July for A’ Level. An extended registration period for the November 2020 session will close on 25 June 2020. Revised provisional examination timetables were also sent to all examination centres across the country.

The Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Mrs Monica Mutsvangwa through a press conference on 1 June reported that the decommissioning of schools and colleges as quarantine centres in preparation for the partial re-opening of schools is expected to be completed by 9 June 2020. Minister Mutsvangwa reported that vocational centres with the capacity to accommodate 2 636 people have been identified as alternative quarantine facilities nationally.

Arrests

Two (2) people were arrested in Mkoba, Gweru for protesting to access Gweru CBD for work since they had exemption letters. It was reported that the duo was turned back by police officers manning one of the checkpoints into Gweru CBD. However, the duo refused citing that they were required to go to work. Police officers arrested the duo and detained them before releasing them after more than 4 hours without pressing any charges. An additional ten (10) people were reportedly arrested in Harare for failure to present valid exemption letters and for sneaking into the CBD. The ten (10) were taken to Harare Central Police Station where they paid an admission of guilt fine of ZWL 200 before being released.

MDC Alliance Youth Assembly Chairman, Tererai Obey Sithole was arrested and detained at Harare Central Police Station. Sithole was arrested for defying the lockdown regulations by allegedly organising and holding an illegal demonstration in Warren Park, on 13 May together with Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova.

Assaults

It was reported that in Chikangwe, in Karoi, three (3) army officers and two police officers assaulted Elton Nyamasoka at his home. He was assaulted on the back with button sticks for allagedly defying the lockdon by not wearing face masks. He was left on the ground nursing his injuries without any charges being levelled against him.

Summary of violations

The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 2 June 2020.

Nature of ViolationNumber of VictimsLocation
Assault264Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare, Marondera, Beitbridge, Domboshava, Wengezi
Attack on Journalists16Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Beitbridge
Arrests402Masvingo, 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 Property2Harare, Chitungwiza
Abductions3Harare

Conclusion

The Forum noted that the action comes at a time when business and industry resumed operations under level 2 lockdown guidelines a few weeks ago and the President announced an indefinite lockdown under Statutory Instrument 110 of 2020 allowing most professions and businesses to resume work in terms of Statutory Instrument 99 of 2020.

The Forum was further baffled by the fact that this all happened when the nation has been awaiting feedback from President Emmerson Mnangagwa who advised over 2 weeks ago that the lockdown would be for an indefinite period reviewable every 2 weeks. As the norm, since the lockdown began, the President appears on national television with an update of the COVID-19 situation and feedback on the lockdown guidelines typically on a Saturday or Sunday almost once every 2 weeks since the lockdown was extended. This update was anticipated on the 30th or 31st of May 2020 but to date, no feedback has been given. It is therefore alarming to see the State security agents behaving as though there is a state of emergency pronounced, turning away genuine people form entering the central business district of Harare and other cities.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)

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