Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report 26-27 June 2020 – Days 89 and 90

Introduction
This report covers two days, Friday 26 and Saturday 27 June 2020 which marked days 89 and 90 of the national lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and has been in place since 30 March 2020 respectively.  By Saturday 26 June 2020, confirmed COVID-19 cases had increased to five hundred and sixty-seven (567). The number of cumulative tests done stood at sixty-six thousand two hundred and thirty-eight (66 238). Of these, sixty-five thousand six hundred and seventy-one (65 671) were negative. The number of recoveries increased to one hundred and forty-two (142) and the death toll stands at six (6).  

Methodology
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
In Tsholotsho at Silambaphoba Business Centre, community members were observed drinking alcohol without taking heed of physical distancing and the mandatory wearing of face masks. Similarly at Sipepa Shopping Centre, three (3) bottle stores were open and community members were drinking beer and going about their normal business. The gatherings were not following COVID-19 guidelines. Public facilities such as beerhalls remain banned under level 2 of the lockdown.

The transport crisis is persisting in Harare. The majority of the commuting public in Harare are struggling to get transport back to their homes after work. At Copacabana Bus Terminus, an estimated 500 people were stranded and only two (2) ZUPCO buses were available. People were not observing physical distancing in the queues though some people made efforts to wear face masks. At the Jameson Hotel, there was also a long queue of commuters hiking for private transport. At the Fourth Street Bus Terminus, commuters were also observed waiting for public transport and there were no ZUPCO buses at the terminus. At the Charge Office Bus Terminus, people waiting for transport to Chitungwiza, Waterfalls and other areas in Harare south were also stranded. Commuters in Mabvuku, Tafara, Gazebo and Eastview have resorted to walking long distances to get private transport to work as ZUPCO busses are failing to meet the demand.

Former ZANU-PF youth leader Jim Kunaka advised journalists that he will lead a public protest against continued violence by Chinese employers. The demonstrations are planned for 29 June. According to Kunaka, public protests will follow COVID-19 regulations.

The government announced a ban on all mobile money transactions.  According to the Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana, the government has suspended all monetary transactions on phone-based mobile money platforms to facilitate investigations that will lead to the arrest and prosecution of people responsible for sabotaging the economy. However, community members who are receiving the COVID-19 relief fund from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare are receiving their monthly allowances via Ecocash and OneMoney.

It was reported that Zimbabwe is set to benefit from over US8,9 million in grant funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to reinforce COVID-19 related control measures in six (6) SADC countries. The Board of Directors of the AfDB approved nearly US8,9 million grant to facilitate the procurement of laboratory and medical supplies, including testing kits, personal protective gear and non-invasive ventilators in Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The grant funding comes under the bank’s COVID-19 Response Facility.

In Bindura, elderly people, persons with disabilities and child herded families received ZWL175.00 via Ecocash and Onemoney as part of the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare food aid program. Beneficiaries have called on the government to provide them with food instead of money due to the drastic loss of value in the currency.

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa launched a nationwide schools COVID-19 disinfection programme, to enable schools to have been thoroughly disinfected throughout the June examination period. Meanwhile, teachers under the ambit of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) have advised they will boycott invigilating the June examinations citing lack of personal protective clothing and proper policies. This decision came after a consultative meeting held at Mbuya Nehanda Hall in Marondera were teachers and parents who attended the meeting agreed that teachers and school children are at risk of contracting COVID-19 if schools open early. The consultative meeting also brought about the dynamic that most parents survive on vending, therefore, there is need for the government to first open the informal sector or vending so that parents have money to pay their children’s fees and needs.

In Harare, it was reported that street vendors are sneaking back into the CBD. Vendors were observed along First Street selling an assortment of products including clothes, cellphones and accessories, while some were roasting green mealies in other parts of the city, blocking traffic and exposing themselves and their clients to COVID-19. This comes after informal traders have been requested to register with the government before they can be allowed to rescue operations.

THE Special Procurement Oversight Committee (SPOC) distanced itself from the ongoing COVID-19 scandal involving Drax International getting a US$60 million contract to supply medicines and surgical sundries without going to tender. SPOC through a statement indicated that the procurement was done through the Ministry of Health and Child Care in line with a circular issued by the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) in March.

The Masvingo COVID-19 Provincial Spokesperson Rodgers Irimayi has advised that government has banned the isolation of COVID-19 patients at home due to the continuous violation of World Health Organisation (WHO) conditions thereby bringing many people at risk of contracting the virus. Addressing journalists recently,  Mr Irimayi stated that government issued the directive last week following concerns that isolated patients were visiting shops, interacting with outsiders and failing to adhere to strict WHO rules. The new regulations now require COVID-19 patients to be isolated at government isolation centres.

The government of Namibia has denied donating rapid COVID-19 test kits to the government of Zimbabwe. The denial issued in a press statement by the Namibian’s Ministry of Health comes after a claim made by the Minister of Information Publicity and Broadcasting Monica Mutsvangwa, that Namibia had donated 4 499 test kits. Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of the Republic of Zimbabwe is reported to have stated that the allegations of the alleged donation of 4499 testing kits from Namibia to Zimbabwe were unfounded and erroneous, and apologized for any inconveniences the reports might have caused. 

The provincial COVID-19 Taskforce Chairperson Matebeleland South, Ms Sithandiwe Ncube called on the government to urgently avail more COVID-19 quarantine and isolation centres and to upgrade existing facilities to enhance their capacity to handle Zimbabweans returning from Botswana and South Africa. Those that are coming from Botswana are being handled in Plumtree, while those coming from South Africa are kept in Beitbridge and Esigodini. The Plumtree centre carries 200 people while the Beitbridge and Esigodini centres can accommodate 150 and 100 at any given time.

Students coming back into the country will be required to undergo the mandatory quarantine.  In an interview Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Professor Amon Murwira indicated that students who are doing final year studies at the country’s universities who will be returing from outside the country are expected to produce COVID-19 free certificates and subjected to the mandatory 21-day quarantine while undergoing testing before they can resume open lectures.

Abduction update
High Court Judge, Justice David Foroma set free Honorable Joanna Mamombe as well as her co-accused persons, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova on RTGS10 000 bail each and imposed strict conditions of reporting 3 times per week and to surrender passports until their matter is finalised. The three who have been languishing in remand prison since their appearance in court on 19 June 2020 are accused of publishing falsehood prejudicial to the state through allegedly faking their abduction. This followed claims they were seized by state security agents who subjected them to acts of torture and sexual abuse as punishment for staging an anti-government protest their abductors equated to an attempt to overthrow the government.

Arrests
In Harare,  Amalgamated Rural Teachers Association (ARTUZ) President Obert Masarawure Central was arrested by police officers at Harare Central Police Station. Reports confirm that Masarawure handed himself to the police who were in search of him for participating in the June 22 salary protests in Masvingo. The police arrested him on arrival before transferring him to Masvingo Central Police Station. The police also detained the ARTUZ Secretary General Robson Chere and released him later after taking statements.

Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 26 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 Journalists18Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Beitbridge
Arrests494Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mwenezi, Guruve, Hwange, Murwi, Kwekwe, Chinhoyi
Malicious Damage to Property2Harare, Chitungwiza
Abductions3Harare

Conclusion
The Forum welcomes the announcement that Zimbabwe is set to benefit from funding from the African Development Bank to help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum however notes that this announcement comes at a time when the Minister of Health is facing charges of criminal abuse of office amidst allegations of corruption. The Forum therefore reiterates its call for transparency regarding government spending and ensure that the necessary safeguards are put in place to ensure that this funding is channelled towards its intended purpose.

The Forum is also concerned about the reemergence of vendors in the CBD amidst the growing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. This is a major risk factor in the spread of the disease,  which comes at a time when cases of infections are on the rise. The Forum urges the government of Zimbabwe to urgently address this issue and ensure the protection of citizens against the infection.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)

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