This report covers two days, Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9 July 2020 which marked days 101 and 102 of the national lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and has been in place since 30 March 2020 respectively. By Thursday 9 July 2020, confirmed COVID-19 cases had increased to nine hundred and twenty-six (926) after Zimbabwe reported its all-time high number of positive cases after ninety-eight (98) people tested positive for COVID-19. Forty-seven (47) of the new cases were local transmissions, whilst the others were returnees from South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana. The previous highest daily increase was reported on 4 July 2020 when seventy-three (73) people tested positive for COVID-19.
The number of cumulative tests done stood at eighty-two thousand and seventy-seven (82 077). Of these, eighty-one thousand one hundred and ninety-two (81 192) were negative. The number of recoveries increased to three hundred and six (306) and the death toll increased to twelve (12).
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)
Confirmed reports indicate that eighteen (18) health personnel working in the same ward at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) have tested positive for COVID-19 after allegedly attending to an infected patient. The exact number of health workers who came into contact with the infected patient is still to be ascertained. This comes after sixty-eight (68) health workers at the hospital were forced to self-isolate at home after a 79-year old woman who tested positive died at the referral facility. In June, fourteen (14) nurses at Mpilo Central Hospital also tested positive for COVID-19 after coming into contact with patients who were infected with COVID-19.
The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Schools Ambassador Cain Mathema has directed schools not to allow their premises to be used for church services or any other functions as they prepare for the re-opening of schools on 28 July 2020. Minister Mathem issued a press statement dated 8 July 2020 in which he advises that the government is focused on ensuring a safe and secure reopening that meets the World Health Organisation guidelines. All schools will need to be disinfected before opening.
Zimbabwe Deputy Minister for Defence and Welfare for War Veterans Victor Matemadanda has alleged that there is a sinister plot to spread COVID-19 through the throwing of COVID-19 canisters which are similar to teargas canisters. The Deputy Minister also alleged that there were human rights groups that were funding the planned 31 July protests and were planning on increasing the number of COVID-19 related deaths to initiate their mechanism of spreading COVID-19. Mr Matemadanda went on to caution protestors against violating COVID-19 regulations.
National Police Spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi reported that another ten (10) returnees escaped from quarantine centres. It was reported that two (2) of the returnees were confirmed COVID-19 cases. The two (2) COVID-19 positive returnees escaped from Pangani Training Centre in Matabeleland South, with another seven (7) escaping from Bulawayo Polytechnic and another returnee escaped from Mushagashe Training Centre in Masvingo. The total number of escaped returnees increased to two hundred and four (204) with only twenty-eight (28) arrested so far. Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi also advised that police officers impounded eight hundred and fifty-seven (857) commuter omnibuses operating in defiance of lockdown regulations. In total, ninety-one thousand two hundred and fifty (91 250) people have been arrested countrywide since March 30 for violating lockdown regulations, with the bulk of them paying fines. The offences include failure to wear masks, liquor-related offences, violation of the Road Traffic Act, unnecessary movements, illegal gatherings, opening businesses without proper documentation.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Mozambique, Mr Douglas Nyikayaramba reported that the government has repatriated fifty-four (54) Zimbabweans from Mozambique. The returnees consist mainly of cross-border traders caught up in the lockdown. The returnees arrived in Zimbabwe on 5 July 2020. The repatriation was done with cooperation from the Mozambican government.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa advised that the government will reintroduce intercity travel after the interrogation of the request by public transports sector. Minister Mutsvangwa advised that the government recognises the challenges being faced by the commuting public to reach different destinations to meet various essential needs. The measures will be announced next week.
In Mutare, Marange residents have called for the immediate dispersal of Marange Apostolic Sect members who are having their annual festival in Mafararikwa, Bocha Marange. According to a statement by a disgruntled resident, the gathering started on 1 July and will end on 21 July despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents blame the Manicaland COVID-19 task force which is led by the Residential Minister Ellen Gwaradzimba. Over ten thousand (10 000) congregants are converging in Manicaland. The congregation is not following COVID-19 regulations, particularly physical distancing.
The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Honourable Monica Mutsvangwa has announced a reduction in the total number of days that COVID-19 patients will spend in isolation and quarantine facilities. According to Minister Mutsvangwa, the days will be reduced to 13 and 10 days for symptomatic and asymptomatic patients respectively. Implementation of the new guidelines will lead to a reduction in the number of days that people will spend in the quarantine and isolation facilities and the number of re-tests to be conducted. According to the new guidelines, people with symptoms will now spend a minimum of 13 days in isolation and a minimum of 10 days for asymptomatic patients instead of the 21 days.
South Africa has temporarily closed its Beitbridge Border Post after one of its customs officers tested positive for COVID-19. According to border officials, the border was closed to allow health authorities to carry out fumigation to minimize chances of spreading the pandemic. South Africa is clearing commercial traffic which is within their customs yard pending further action. They have stopped accepting trucks from either side of the border until the fumigation is done.
Police officers arrested MDC Alliance national youth organiser, Godfrey Kurauone and charged him with undermining President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s authority. It was reported that Godfrey Kurauone proceeded to a ZUPCO bus terminus in the city centre and addressed commuters who were waiting to board buses. It was alleged that Kurauone urged commuters to unite and remove the corrupt government and President Mnangagwa.
Attack on Journalists
Police Officers arrested and detained two (2) journalists Panashe Makufa and Prichard Mahove in Mbare at Mbare Magistrate Court for allegedly taking pictures of police officers walking from Mbare Magistrate Court to Mbare Police Station. The two journalists were charged with disorderly conduct as defined in section 41 of the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform) Act. The duo was released into the custody of their lawyers from Mbare Police Station.
Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 9 July 2020.
|Nature of Violation||Number of Victims||Location|
|Assault||278||Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare, Marondera, Beitbridge, Domboshava, Wengezi|
|Attack on Journalists||21||Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Beitbridge|
|Arrests||496||Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mwenezi, Guruve, Hwange, Murwi, Kwekwe, Chinhoyi|
The Forum is concerned about the growing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases especially the local transmissions. This comes at the backdrop of the continuous absconding from quarantine centres by returnees and the relaxation of regulations including inter-city travel. The Forum bemoans the continuous harassment of journalists in their line of duty. The Forum calls upon the government and law enforcement officers to protest journalists as they discharge their duties. The spread of COVID-19 to health professionals as reported points to the lack of proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). The Forum calls upon the government and the Ministry of Health and Child Care to provide adequate equipment and sundries to frontline medical practitioners.
Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)