Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report 3 -4 July 2020 – Days 96 & 97

Introduction
This report covers two days, Friday 3 and Saturday 4 July 2020 which marked days 96 and 97 of the national lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and has been in place since 30 March 2020 respectively.  By Saturday 3 July 2020, confirmed COVID-19 cases had increased to six hundred and ninety-eight (698) after an all-time high number of seventy-three (73) people tested positive. The number of cumulative tests done stood at seventy thousand four hundred and sixty-five (78 465). Of these, sixty-five thousand six hundred and seventy-one (77 767) were negative. The number of recoveries increased to one hundred and eighty-one (181) and the death toll increased to eight (8) after a twenty-one-year-old lady from Harare succumbed.  The Ministry of Health and Childcare advised the woman had no history of travel.  

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 Human Rights Association (ZimRights)
  • Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR)

General Updates
With the increasing confirmed COVID-19 cases and the recent death of a 21-year old woman with no history of travelling, the continuous defiance of the national lockdown by citizens is worrying. The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has expressed concern over the increasing number of unexplained local transmissions. In a press statement,  ZADHR explained the need to strengthen surveillance systems by increasing the number of people being tested in communities as well as conducting a robust contact tracing process. ZADHR bemoaned the increasing long queues for basic commodities like mealie-meal and sugar, where people cannot practise social distancing. ZADHR further called on the need to provide health workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) and the need to capacitate them financially so that they can do their job well.

In Mbare high levels of complacency was observed as vendors were not maintaining physical distancing, while many were either without masks or simply donned the masks improperly, placing them on their chins. Vendors selling clothes, bananas, tomatoes and other accessories were crowded along the Rufaro Stadium precast. Also observed were commuter omnibuses without number plates ferrying passengers. At traffic lights near the ZBC along Simon Mazorodze Road, commuter omnibuses blocked one lane competing for passengers coming from Mbare Market and headed to Glen View, Glen Norah, Highfield and Budiriro. The situation was the same at the corner of Seke and Dieppe roads where commuter omnibuses plying Mutare and Mutoko routes were illegally loading passengers at ease.

The Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Gibson Mhlanga barred the interim MDC leader Thokozani Khupe from holding the party’s planned extra-ordinary congress slated for July 31 citing COVID-19. This came as a result of a letter from the interim MDC leader in which she asked for clearance from the Ministry of Health and Child Care for the gathering which was due to be attended by 4 500 delegates.

Members of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) held a protest in Harare at Highglen District Education Offices. The teachers were demanding salaries to be paid in US dollars. The protestors were however not observing physical distancing though they had face masks. This protest is the third one after the teachers union embarked on similar protests in Murewa on 27 June and Masvingo on 22 June.

Nationally, nurses embarked on a stay away on 27 June 2020 citing incapacitation due to eroded salaries. Some of the nurses residing at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare have been served with three (3) months notices to evacuate from the hospital flats. Through a letter dated 30 June, Parirenyatwa Hospital Chief Executive Officer Mr ET Manyawu issued the notices of evacuation based on the failure of nurses to attend to medical emergencies. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be difficult for the nurses to get new accommodation.

The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Ambassador Cain Mathema has advised that private schools that reopen before 28 July will be deregistered. This follows reports that some private schools were planning to reopen early. Minister Mathema who was addressing the media advised that all schools should follow the regulations and preserve the lives of students.

It was reported that vendors in Mt Darwin clashed with Pfura Rural District Council workers after they destroyed the former’s vending stalls to pave way for road construction. The clashes resulted in the stoning of the council’s equipment. Pfura RDC chief executive Mr Stanslous Nyachowe said following the relaxation of Covid-19 lockdown conditions and reopening of the informal sector the local authority decided to formally resettle vendors. He said the aggrieved vendors were operating in the middle of a service road and were advised to relocate to the new site to pave way for the construction of the road.

Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 3 July 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 Journalists19Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Beitbridge
Arrests495Masvingo, 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 is concerned by the increasing number of local transmissions and the increase in deaths relating to COVID-19. Of concern also is the fact that the Ministry of Health and Child Care advised that the eighth death was only confirmed as a COVID-19 case after the patient had passed away. This points to the lack of preparedness and lack of proper policies to screen and test for COVID-19. The Forum reiterates the call by ZADHR to ensure that more people get tested.  The increase in the number of local transmissions as well as the worrying figures coming from South Africa is cause for concern. 
 
The Forum further calls on all those who wish to stage demonstrations (which are permitted by our Constitution) to ensure that all demonstrators abide by the COVID-19 regulations and ensure all people have face masks and maintain social distancing.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)

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