75 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Childcare reported that as at the 11th of June 2020, the number of Covid-19 positive cases had increased to 332 cases.
We note the relaxation of level 2 measures, which will see gatherings for purposes of worship being allowed with the maximum of 50 persons, observing Covid-19 prevention measures.
Today, the World Day Against Child Labour, which was launched by the ILO in 2002 and has been commemorated annually ever since, we note with concern the warning issued by Terre des Hommes that the Covid-19 pandemic will lead to a dramatic increase in child labour. We note that the United Nations estimates that an additional 66 million children are at risk of extreme poverty as a result of the Covid-17 pandemic.
We note with concern that the perspectives shared by Terre des Hommes resonate with the lived realities of Zimbabwe families and children, in particular that children who are already disadvantaged are particularly at risk: poor and neglected children, street children, girls, refugee children and children of migrants, children in crisis regions and children without parental care.
We report a visible increase in children who are begging on the streets in Harare, Kwekwe and Mutare. We remain concerned by the vulnerabilities of children to selling food products on the streets for their families, the increased risk of being exposed to sexual exploitation.
We note with additional concern the report by Europol that indicated the increased availability and demand for child sexual abuse material on the internet due to the increased prevalence of the children operating on the internet for purposes on online learning;
- We call the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to activate a proactive process of registering person whose vulnerability has been exacerbated by the loss of their livelihood and safety needs through lockdown.
- We urge the Government that investments in key services for children, in health and nutrition, education and protection against violence are effective and direct means to reduce the occurrence of child labour in our communities.
- We urge for a deliberate active process to identify and provide support vulnerable families and children
Critical Emerging Issues
Report on Plumtree and Beitbridge Prisons
Remaining gravely concerned that convicted persons and those on remand are amongst the most vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic. 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;
Aware that Beitbridge and Plumtree prisons recorded Covid-19 cases in May.
- We request that Government together with the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service to produce and publicize a report on the current status of Prisons in relation to Covid-19, and to further update the Nation on the situation in Plumtree and Beitbridge Prisons.
- Furthermore, we continue to urge Government, to urgently implement a comprehensive crisis plan to cater for the rights, needs and safety of detainees in the Covid-19 era.
- We urge specific measures to protect vulnerable detainees such as juveniles, pregnant women, and women prisoners with infants in prison, persons with disabilities and those with underlying health conditions.
Support to Persons with Disabilities
Remaining concerned with the Government’s demonstrated complacency and lack of pro-activeness in supporting persons with disabilities;
- We continue to urge Government to take steps and implement measures for supporting persons with disabilities, in responding to the pandemic and also to ensure that special mechanisms are adopted, to lessen their risk of exposure to Covid-19.
Delay in implementing social protection measures
The delays in implementing social protection measures continue to hit hard on vulnerable households. It is gravely disappointing to note the lack urgency by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, while on the other hand, the cost of living continues to soar high due to inflation. This has raised a general sense of discontent and disgruntlement by the communities over the delays in the implementation of social protection measures by Government.
We also note that persons in the informal sector have been requested to formally register their enterprises forthwith, for resumption of operations.
We remain concerned that the attempt to formalise the informal sector as a prerequisite to accessing support to protect against vulnerabilities opens and expands the vulnerabilities of the same group of persons it is meant to protect;
- We therefore 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.
Security Services and Arrests
We continue to note growing trends from right across Zimbabwe indicating that the security services are failing to adhere to the public health safety protocols when effecting arrests. Reports indicate lack of physical distancing and use of hand sanitizers for offenders. Such actions expose both the security forces and the offenders to Covid-19, thereby resulting in a wider community spread and transmission.
- We therefore urge security agents to be alive to the real threat of Covid-19, and be more cautious when carrying out arrests, by desisting from actions that may endanger both their lives and those of offenders.
- In the same breadth, noting that security agents, are exposed to the public every day, we request a report on the status of testing of all security agents currently enforcing the lockdown.
ZUPCO a potential health hazard
Growing reports reveal a huge outcry over the public transport system ZUPCO and its waning responsiveness to Covid-19. This comes after Government recently announced that ZUPCO buses may now carry more passengers in one trip than was previously permitted. Reports show that most of the ZUPCO buses are no longer maintaining public health safety protocols such as physical distancing, sanitization and temperature checks. This raises concern that such slackening may affect the system’s ability to detect potential Covid-19 cases amongst the commuting public, thus exposing the public to infection.
- We continue to call for the strict implementation of public health safety protocols in the public transport system.
- We urge enforcement agents to ensure that physical distancing is upheld by the ZUPCO transport operators.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)