On Thursday 4 June 2020 which marked day 67 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 increased to two hundred and thirty-seven (237). The number of cumulative tests done stood at fifty thousand nine hundred and twenty (50 920). Of these, fifty thousand six hundred and eighty-three (50 683) were negative. The number of recoveries increased to thirty-one (31) 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 Habakuk Trust, The Herald and Bulawayo24 have also been incorporated into this report.
The Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Mr Kazembe Kazembe issued a statement regarding the investigations of the abduction and torture of Member of Parliament Joana Mamombe and MDC youth leaders Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri. Minister Kazembe said investigators could not conclusively dismiss the alleged abduction of the trio. However, Minister Kazembe noted that there were inconsistencies between the trio’s account of events and what has been found by investigators. Minister Kazembe suggested that the abduction was staged to discredit the government. Minister Kazembe also pointed out that the investigation into the abduction and torture does not interfere with a separate investigation and due process which is ongoing concerning the three’s alleged participation in an illegal demonstration in Warren Park. The Forum has since issued a statement in response to the Minister’s suggestions that certain Forum members have had or are having a role to play in aiding “the fake abductions”. The Statement is available here
At State house, President Emmerson Mnangagwa met with members of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) in a COVID-19 review engagement, and assured members that government will leave no stone unturned on the alleged abductions of the trio, stating that the resultant report of the findings will be made public.
In Chipinge a joint operation conducted by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers and Chipinge Municipal Police demolished vending stalls, church structures and temporary blair toilets at Gaza A section. This comes after similar nationwide demolitions that have left some families homeless and vendors without vending stalls.
In Glen Norah in Harare, it was reported that some ZUPCO opeartors were only allowing civil servants to board. Community members with exemption letters from any other private company were not being allowed to board the buses. This left commuters stranded resulting in some of them resorting to private motorists whilst others had to walk to work. It was also reported that pivate taxis were ferrying people from Mbudzi roundabout to Glen Norah.
In areas between 15th to 69th Streets in Glenview in Harare, residents have gone for more than three (3) weeks without running water. Residents are forced to queue at two (2) community boreholes at 11th street and Willowvale Car Park. Due to the congestion at the two community boreholes, some residents have resorted to travelling long distances to the industrial areas in Southerton to get drinking water. Residence have implored authorities to provide water bowseres to ease the water problem.
In Marondera, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) distributied soap to mothers with children under the age of 5 at Samuriwo, Dombodzvuku and Nyembanzvere growth points. In Goromonzi, Christ Embassy Church donated food hampers each consisting of 12.5kgs roller meal, 2kgs sugar, 1kg salt, 2kgs rice and 2litres of cooking oil to several beneficiaries who included the elderly.
In Bikita, ZANU-PF convened a rally at Gangare Primary School. The rally was facilitated by the Member of Pariament Johnson Madhuku and it was attended by more than 80 people. It was reported that the rally was to mobilise voters and to set ground work for the by-elections due to be conducted in the area.
Habakkuk Trust has noted with concern that in Umzingwane there is no adherence to COVID-19 regulations in mines. Through their report, Habakkuk Trust noted that workers were going on about their work in close proximity to each other, with total disregard for social distancing. None of the workers at the mines had masks and there were no visible sanitisation procedures for workers and visitors. These findings are worrying in light of the recent increases in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.
Scores of citizens were crowded at Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) banking halls to buy tokens in Bulawayo and Harare. This is due to challenges with ZETDC electricity online purchase platforms over the last few days. The public was not observing social distancing measures to mitigate against the spread of the deadly COVID-19.
Through a report published on 4 June, the Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) reported that it received reports of shortages of screening and test kits at quarantine centres in Harare, Gweru, Chinhoyi and Victoria Falls and in some cases returnees being asked to pay for testing costs ranging between USD25.00 to USD65.00 per test. ZADHR reported that the recent spike in cases in quarantine centres might be a result of the poor living conditions at the quarantine facilities. It has been reported that the situation at quarantine facilities at Girls High School, in Gweru, Chinhoyi and Victoria Falls is as follows: There is sharing of dormitories by returnees with some sleeping close to each other in violation of the social and physical distancing, exposing them to infection; There is sharing of ablution facilities which are dirty and in a state of disrepair; There is lack of regular disinfection of facilities contrary to the COVID-19 guidelines and the President’s pronouncements and no sanitisers are being provided to the occupants, posing a serious health risk; Utensils are not being washed with soap and are inadequate. Returnees particularly women are reported to be taking turns to reuse the same plates, cups, spoons and other utensils; There is no running water forcing the returnees to fetching water in buckets using this to flush toilets, bath and drink; There is inhibited access to medication for people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes at the Girls High School Quarantine Centre.
The report added that ZADHR is concerned about reports of 150 returnees who were released from a Gweru facility four days ahead of schedule on the 24th of May 2020, after returnees threatened to protest against poor living conditions.
Community members in Zaka, Bikita and Gutu have expressed concern over the lack of adequate security measures at quarantine centres in Masvingo Province. Community members reported that they have recorded an increase in the number of returnees at most business centres where even social distancing or wearing of masks is not being even observed. Most of these retunees are alleged to have absconded quarantine centres.
At Harare Polytechnic College Quarantine Centre, returnees complained that some of them had been in the facility for 27 days, and that they have not been tested for COVID-19 since day 1. Some of the returnees have reportedly bribed their way out without getting tested for COVID-19. Some of the returnees reported that they are only getting one meal a day while others reported that they were assaulted by police officers manning the quarantine centres each time they attempt to voice their concerns.
Reopening of schools update
The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education Ms Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga addressing Parliament said the interactions her committee had with various stakeholders showed that the country was not ready for the re-opening of schools. Honorable Misihairabwi-Mushonga advised the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education that more resources are needed to provide all schools with water and other requirements before the reopening of schools. She added that teacher’s unions indicated that they are worried over the safety of pupils and teachers.
In Gweru, Midlands State University (MSU) has announced that all final-year undergraduate students would be required to stay in campus when they resume learning this month as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. MSU will re-open in phases for its final-year undergraduate and postgraduate students between June 22 and August 28 for lectures and examinations.
In Kwekwe, it was reported that police officers arrested close to eleven (11) vendors in the city centre for defying the lockdown by seling goods at undesgnated spaces. Howevere, it was reported that the vendors bribed the police officers with ZWL20 each for them to be released.
Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 4 June 2020.
|Nature of Violation||Number of Victims||Location|
|Assault||264||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||413||Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mwenezi, Guruve, Hwange, Mvurwi, Kwekwe|
|Malicious Damage to Property||2||Harare, Chitungwiza|
The Forum is concerned with the constant attacks on civil society organisations by State representatives. The Forum reminds the government that civil society organisations play an important oversight role as watchdogs and service providers to citizens and communities. The Forum therefore reiterates that CSOs are not enemies of the State. Rather, they complement efforts by the government to build a better Zimbabwe.
The Forum notes that the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on COVID-19 headed by Vice-President Kembo Mohadi has not yet addressed the nation following the lapse of the first 2 weeks since the President announced the indefinite extension of the lockdown. This is undesirable as it causes uncertainty and anxiety among Zimbabweans many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet during the lockdown. As such the Forum calls on the task force to remedy this and consistently communicate with the nation in fulfilment of its mandate.
The Forum notes with grave concern the conditions and treatment of returnees in quarantine facilities. The Forum reminds the government and relevant ministries of the right to human dignity under section 51 of the Constitution. The Forum therefore urges the government to urgently address the plight of returnees in quarantine centres to curb the spread of COVID-19 and to minimise the risk of increased abscondment of mandatory quarantine.
Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)