Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report 19-20 June 2020 – Days 82 and 83

This report covers two days, Friday 19 and Saturday 20 June 2020 which marked days 83 and 84 of the national lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and has been in place since 30 March 2020 respectively.  By Saturday 20 June 2020, confirmed COVID-19 cases had increased to four hundred and eighty-six (486).  The Ministry of Health and Child Care also announced the death of two people who succumbed to COVID-19 bringing the death toll in the country to six (6). One of the deaths is a community transmission in Gweru whilst the other death involves a returnee who was in quarantine in Bulawayo.
To date, the number of cumulative tests done stand at sixty-two thousand three hundred and ninety-seven (62 397). Of these, sixty-one thousand nine hundred and eleven (61 911) were negative. The number of recoveries increased to sixty-four (64). There  is concern that the government is mainly testing returnees and in the process leaving out most of the citizens.

Information contained in this report is derived from the following Forum Members:

  • Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP)
  • Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
  • Counselling Services Unit (CSU)
  • Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR)
  • Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights)

General Updates
Following the announcement of incapacitation by medical practitioners nationally, most health centres had no medical professionals. In Marondera at Mahusekwa District Hospital, Madamombe Clinic and Chiriseri Clinic there were no medical practitioners to attend to patients. Similar reports were reported in Nkayi and Chiredzi. In Mutare, nurses also demonstrated against the lack of proper equipment and low salaries.

As transport challenges continue to plague commuters, long queues of workers waiting for transport were observed in Harare at Copacabana Bus Terminus on Friday and Saturday. In Gweru and Masvingo, some workers have resorted to walking to and from work. The situation has been worsened by fuel shortages.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chief Election Officer Mr Utloile Silaigwana indicated that all pending by-elections will only proceed after ZEC has finished working on a draft COVID-19 electoral practice policy. The policy will guide electoral staff, the electorate and other stakeholders on how to conduct themselves before, during and after electoral processes to avoid contracting COVID-19. Initially, ZEC advised that the current suspension of by-elections was guided by government directive meant to assist in curbing the spread of COVID-19.

The Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obediah Moyo was on Friday arrested on allegations of criminal abuse of duty relating to the procurement of COVID-19 drugs.  Dr Moyo appeared in court on Saturday and was granted ZWL50 000 bail when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi facing three different counts of criminal abuse of office charges.

In Guruve, there was a community distribution of food aid from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare at Negomo Primary School. Reports indicated that ZANU PF Councillor Ranganai Nzvimbo was in charge of the distribution. Villagers were requested to pay ZWL5 for transport costs before receiving a bag of maize. Physical distancing was not observed during the food distribution process.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education developed standard operating procedures which are meant to guide heads of schools, teachers, learners and stakeholders on how they should be conducting business. The start of the phased reopening of primary and secondary schools has been set for Tuesday, July 28. The operating standards include the following:

  • The seating arrangement in every classroom should allow one metre between learners.
  • Each desk should have one learner
  • A classroom should not accommodate more than 35 learners.
  • Social and physical distancing should be practised in hostels, the use of bunk beds in hostels is therefore prohibited.
  • All sporting activities, including matches, choral practice, indoor games and festivals are prohibited.
  • The use of play centres, sporting equipment, gymnasium and sporting facilities are prohibited.
  • Learners in a class should stay in one classroom throughout the day while teachers move between classrooms in secondary schools.
  • Each school will be required to have sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and a health coordinator trained by the Ministry of Health and Child Care before schools open.
  • Each classroom should be equipped with a handwashing facility, running water and soaps.
  • Ablution facilities, according to the guidelines, should be cleaned and disinfected thrice a day.
  • Transport services will be required to carry one student per seat with a distance of one metre effected.
  • The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has also mandated schools to come up with COVID-19 awareness programmes for learners.

On 19 June, police officers arrested Namatai Kwekweza and Vongai Zimudzi outside the New Government Complex in Harare for allegedly participating in a gathering with intent to cause public violence, breach of peace, bigotry as provided under Section 37 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23].  The duo sat with placards outside the complex urging the government to consult three million people who voted in favour of the Constitution to gather their input on the proposed amendments to the Constitution. The duo was been released on ZWL3 000 bail and they are mandated to report to police once every week. They are also supposed to surrender their passports.  Parliament came under fire for proceeding with the public hearings despite the national lockdown.

Police officers arrested thirty-five (35) nurses in Mutare for demonstrating during the COVID-19 lockdown. The nurses were detained at Mutare Central Police Station. The status of arrested persons is still to be confirmed.

Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 19 June 2020.

Nature of ViolationNumber of VictimsLocation
Assault278Harare, 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
Arrests467Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mwenezi, Guruve, Hwange, Murwi, Kwekwe
Malicious Damage to Property2Harare, Chitungwiza

Court Update
Justice Charewa of the High Court Harare ordered the government to provide personal protective equipment to teachers and students and to disinfect all schools and exam centres.  The government was also ordered to ensure that the schools and exam centres meet the World Health Organisation prescribed measures to protect against COVID-19 by 26 June 2020, before the start of exams scheduled for 30 June 2020 begin. The order follows an application filed by eight teachers unions in the country.

Justice Nokuthula Moyo of the Bulawayo High Court dismissed the urgent chamber application filed by the Habakkuk Trust seeking an order to interdict Parliament from conducting public hearings on Constitutional Amendment No.2 Bill.

Amidst the increasing cases of confirmed COVID-19 cases, Zimbabwe has recorded two more deaths. This also comes at a time when the government is reopening schools, informal and formal industries. The Forum is concerned with the possibility of the spread of COVID-19, particularly in schools. The Forum, therefore, calls upon the National COVID-19 Response Task Force to re-evaluate the COVID-19 situation in Zimbabwe which will inform the re-opening of schools and businesses.

The Forum is concerned with the arrest of Namatai Kwekweza and Vongai Zimudzi for expressing their concern regarding Parliament’s decision to continue with the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 2) Bill public hearings during a time when most citizens are unable to fully participate. The concern expressed by the duo is a legitimate concern that the Forum shares.

The Forum also calls upon the government and the Ministry of Health and Child Care, in particular, to provide personal protective clothing to frontline workers, particularly medical professionals as they fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum also calls on the government to address the concerns of medical practitioners at a time when they are the last line of defence against COVID-19. The Forum also notes the arrest of the Minister of Health and Child Care amidst allegations of corruption and abuse of office. The Forum calls upon ZACC to fully investigate these allegations and not employ the “catch and release” strategy that it has used in the past.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)

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