78 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Childcare reported that as at the 15th of June 2020, the number of COVID-19 positive cases had increased to 387 cases. The number of recovered patients currently stands at 54.
Critical Emerging Issues
Public hearings during lockdown
Today Parliament held its first public hearings on the Constitution Amendment Bill 2. Generally, Covid-19 safety protocols were observed, which included temperature checks, physical distancing, and use of sanitizers. However, in Gweru at Chiundura Centre our networks report that the Committee conducted 1 single hearing with over 250 participants, thereby violating the Covid-19 containment regulations which limits gatherings to 50 persons only.
In Chinhoyi, while the safety protocols were strictly observed, women who attended hearings have bemoaned the hurried manner in which the Committee conducted its business. The women raised concern that they were not afforded adequate time and opportunity to air their views, as the Committee indicated that it had to deal with large volumes of participants to attend to.
- We urge Parliament, particularly the Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, not to sacrifice democracy, but rather should vigilantly execute their mandate as Parliament in terms of section 141 of the Constitution to ensure public participation and involvement in legislative processes.
- We further urge the Committee to ensure compliance with the law and public health guidelines so as to ensure that citizens are not exposed to Covid-19.
Restrictions in movement by the security agents
Today, the majority of citizens who were travelling in areas such as Harare and Karoi, faced untold challenges due to restrictions on movement by security forces. In most instances, it has been reported that travellers were turned away and barred from entering the Harare Central Business District, despite being part of the essential services exempted under the Covid-19 regulations.
We note that this is indeed a growing trend on the distortion of the definition of essential service through the methods of enforcement wherein persons who are stated in the regulations as essential service continue to be harassed by enforcement officers;
- We call for an official position on movement, travel permits and essential services, as we have noted growing inconsistences throughout the past few weeks.
- 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.
Challenges accessing public transport
We further note growing challenges in accessing public transport, particularly in Guruve. Reports also indicate, that in other areas, in order to mitigate this challenge mshika-shika has also resumed operations. This places commuters at the risk of exposure to Covid-19, given lack of regulation and compliance by the mshika-shika system. These developments come in at a time when ZUPCO remains the sole transport provider during the lockdown.
- We continue to recommend further consultations with the public transport associations in order to develop solutions that effectively address the challenge, while at the same time ensuring that the commuting public is not exposed to Covid-19.
Guidance on operation of churches
Following the National Prayer day that was observed by certain religious sections today, reports reveal worrying patterns showing disrespect of public health and safety protocols. Reports continue to show that most congregants have been taking off their masks as soon as they entered the church gates;
- We reiterate our recommendation on the establishment of clear guidelines on the operation of churches.
- We continue to urge the development and implementation of clear strategies for enforcing containment measures not only within the church, but throughout all public gatherings.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe