Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report 19 to 20 July 2020 – Days 110 to 111

Introduction                                                                                  
This report covers two days, Sunday 19 and Monday 20 July 2020 which marked days 110 and 111 of the national lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and has been in place since 30 March 2020 respectively. By Monday 20 July 2020, confirmed COVID-19 cases had increased to one thousand seven hundred and thirteen (1 713). Of concern are the increasing numbers of local transmissions which now account for eight hundred and seventy-two cases. The number of cumulative tests done stood at one hundred three thousand two hundred and ninety-one (103 291). The death toll increased to twenty-six(26).

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)

Highlights 
Zimbabwe senior hospital doctors have given the government 14 days notice to address their grievances or they will withdraw their services. The doctors indicated that they will no longer be able to continue to report for work. The Zimbabwe Senior Hospitals Doctors Association (ZSHDA) said the government must make Covid-19 testing readily available in all hospitals so that they can be able to offer seamless services. The letter is addressed to the acting Health Minister Amon Murwira, the Health Service Board (HSB), and Hospital Clinical Directors.

Zimbabwe Republic Police in Nkayi has reported that they have arrested one hundred and eighty-six (186) people for violating COVID-19 lockdown measures. According to the police the arrested persons were found carrying out illegal mining activities and liquor-related violations.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Publicity, Mr Nick Mangwana has announced that ordinary Zimbabweans will not be allowed to enter the Central Business District with immediate effect. Mangwana said to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, only essential workers will be allowed to access the CBD. Meanwhile, photojournalist Lovejoy Mtongwiza reported that  ZRP officers manning the Warren Park Roadblock were stopping motorists driving into Harare CBD and demanded between USD5 and USD10 for spot fines for offences like overloading and driving a vehicle without number plates.

The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) has reported no further COVID-19 cases at its Bulawayo prison after four inmates and one prison officer recently tested positive for the pandemic. ZPCS has embarked on a mass testing exercise for everyone at the prison and disinfecting the complex as it scaled up measures to contain the coronavirus. While ZPCS spokesperson superintendent Mayah Khanyezi could not shed light on how the victims might have contracted the virus, she advised that everything was under control. Meanwhile, two (2) positive COVID-19 cases have been recorded at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, adding to unofficial reports of a coronavirus death at the same place and a third case at the correctional services department’s downtown Harare building. The two are a prisons officer and an ex-soldier, who is the husband of another member working for the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, who resides in the Chikurubi camp. 

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs David Musabayana has advised that about two hundred (200) Zimbabwean students studying in China who have been stranded in that country following the COVID-19 induced lockdown are expected to be repatriated back home. Musabayana, who was speaking on the government policy of assisting stranded citizens to return home said the government was offering assistance with acquiring necessary travelling documents.

The workplace has come under the spotlight after several COVID-19 cases have been contracted in offices, leading to the temporary closure. Cimas Medical Aid Society employees in Harare tested positive for COVID-19. The COVID-19 patients shared transport, work stations, computers and telephone handsets. Recently, some health workers at Mpilo Central Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals tested positive for COVID-19 while Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) Bulawayo offices were temporarily closed after one of its senior staffers succumbed to COVID-19. Similarly, Zimstats, PSMAS and Star Africa Cooperation have all reported COVID-19 cases.  OK Zimbabwe has also announced the temporary closure of Bon Marche Mt Pleasant after a security guard posted to the store had tested positive.  Watershed College in Marondera has also put staff members in quarantine after 5 staff members tested positive.

Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) Chairperson Professor Eddie Mwenje advised that the final public examinations for Ordinary and Advanced Level students, which are normally taken in October and November each year, might be deferred to next year to ensure learners complete the school syllabuses before writing. This follows a directive by Cabinet last week to defer the planned reopening of schools on July 28 to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has seen local transmissions spike in recent weeks said examinations will only be written when students have completed the syllabus and when it is safe to do so, even if it means pushing the examinations to December this year or January next year. He, however, highlighted that the examination management body would this week start preparing for the examinations, with dates for sitting for the tests set to be announced after consultations with various stakeholders.

Female returnees housed at Khumalo Hotel Quarantine Centre in Bulawayo are complaining of overcrowding and lack of testing, saying the situation was exposing them to COVID-19. Some of the returnees alleged they had gone for more than 14 days without testing, as no clarity was made by officials on when they would be tested. According to government policy, returnees are subjected to mandatory 21 days with testing to be done on Day One, Day 8 and Day 21. Khumalo Hotel was recently turned into one of the quarantine centres in the city after the closure of Bulawayo Polytechnic and United College of Education (UCE) to make way for the reopening of tertiary institutions. The hotel was designated to accommodate women and children. But the centre is now allegedly overwhelmed as more returnees continue coming back home, with others complaining of being crammed into single rooms.

Arrests 
Police officers arrested Opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume and detained him at Harare Central Police Station. Initially, Ngarivhume was arrested without being advised of the charges. During that time, lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) were barred from accessing him. Late in the day, it was reported that Ngarivhume was charged with contravening Section 187(1)(a) as read with section 37(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Law [Codification and Reform] Act, Chapter 9:23 incitement to participate in public violence.

Attacks on Journalists 
Police officers arrested investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono. Hopewell Chin’ono is currently detained at the Harare Central Police Station though Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) were denied access to confer with him. Hopewell Chin’ono indicated that police and State agents besieged his house and harassed his workers. Hopewell Chin’ono had been receiving threats from State security agents and other government officials relating to the DRAX scandal. He as later charged with contravening Section 187(1)(a) as read with section 37(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Law [Codification and Reform] Act, Chapter 9:23 incitement to participate in public violence.

Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 20 July 2020.

Nature of ViolationNumber of VictimsLocation
Assault280Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare, Marondera, Beitbridge, Domboshava, Wengezi
Attack on Journalists24Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Beitbridge
Arrests502Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mwenezi, Guruve, Hwange, Murwi, Kwekwe, Chinhoyi
Abductions4Harare
Gunshots2Chitungwiza, Bulawayo

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)

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