Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 69 – WCoZ Covid-19 Situation Report

69 days into the lockdown, and the number of COVID-19 positive cases as at the 5th of June 2020 has increased by 28 new cases, bringing the total number to 265. All the new cases were recorded from returnees, and they have now been placed in isolation.

Today the WHO, issued updated guidelines on the use of masks for control of the COVID-19. The guidelines recommend that fabric masks should consist of at least 3 layers of different fabric. The guidelines further reiterate that masks are not a replacement for physical distancing and other containment measures. We remain concerned that the Government of Zimbabwe has not set out official guidelines on mask types, masks usage and disposal of masks besides a national policy of mandatory mask wearing.

We remain concerned of reports in rural communities that indicate the failure to observe social distancing and adherence to 50 person limits to burial and traditional ceremonies in communities in particular Masvingo, Midlands South and Tsholotsho.

We remain particularly concerned with the operations of widespread reports of drinking night sport in communities with high numbers of artisanal miners.

Critical Emerging Issues

1. Rampant price hikes

The prices for basic commodities continue to soar.

Today, a loaf of bread was averagely pegged at ZWL$40, 2kg sugar ZWL$180, and 2ltrs Cooking oil ZWL$230 (at a value of USD$1.60, USD$7.20, USD$9.20 at the official government rate). These are clearly above the earning capacity of average households in the country.

The levels of inflation within the country erode the value of the wages and incomes of households, which predominantly rely on the informal economy to raise income. The continued lockdown on the informal sector without adequate tangible ameliorative measures by the state to plug the gap means that average Zimbabwean households are facing a crisis last seen in the early 2000’s.

This situation increases the level of vulnerability of already struggling households particularly female headed households. To date the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare is yet to implement the social protection program. In addition, the ZWL$18 Billion, stimulus package for vulnerable populations, announced by the President in April is yet to be rolled out.

These circumstances leave citizens alone at sea while Government fails to uphold the constitution and respect the social contract of Governance. We believe the Government can do better, accordingly;

  • We remind Government, of section 77 of the Constitution, which guarantees every person the right to sufficient food, and places an obligation on the State to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.
  • We urge the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and also the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe to investigate cases of illegal price hikes of basic commodities.
  • Furthermore, we continue to urge the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare to expedite disbursement of food aid program for both rural and urban communities and social protection grants to vulnerable communities in a transparent manner, without any political interference.

2. Security and Crime

The Zimbabwe Republic Police have a role to play in our society and we urge the Police to undertake their mandates in a manner that respects the highest adherence to the constitutional principles in the discharge of their duties.

We raise concern over the growing reports of crime, particularly robberies and theft, particularly, in several neighbourhoods around Bulawayo and Harare;

Concerned that such an increase in crime may break public trust, leading to community unrest under COVID-19;

  • We buttress our calls upon the Zimbabwe Republic Police to strengthen community policing practises with the sole intention to curb crime and violence against women.
  • We urge the Police to remain alive to cases of violence against women, domestic violence, child abuse, and
  • We call upon the Government to expedite the process to establishing the Independent complaints Mechanisms under section 210 of the Constitution.

3. Restrictions in movement by the security agents

This week we have witnessed undue widespread restrictions on citizens’ movement by the enforcing agents in Harare and in Bulawayo predominately.

In other instances, it has been reported that most travellers were turned away and barred from entering the Harare Central Business District.

We note the distortion of the definition of essential service through the methods of enforcement wherein person who are stated in the regulations as defined and protected as essential service continue to be harassed by enforcement officers;

  • We reiterate the call for clarification on what entails essential services as several persons protected by the definition of essential services under COVID-19 regulations were removed from public transport and turned away from the Harare Central Business District.
  • We further reiterate our call for an official position on the movement of persons, travel permits and essential services designations, as we have noted growing inconsistences in enforcement throughout the week.
  • We reinforce our calls upon the enforcing agents to exercise restraint and avoid unleashing terror and violence upon communities, under the guise of enforcing lockdown.

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)

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