Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report 6-9 August 2020 – Days 128-131

This report covers days between Thursday 6 and Sunday 9 August 2020 which marked days 128 to 131 of the national lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and has been in place since 30 March 2020 respectively. By Sunday 9 August 2020 confirmed COVID-19 cases had increased to four thousand six hundred and forty-nine (4 649). Local transmissions accounted for three thousand five hundred and twenty-eight (3 528) cases. The number of cumulative tests done stood at one hundred and forty-nine thousand and seven hundred and forty-eight (149 748). The death toll increased to one hundred and four (104).

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)
  • Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA)

In Mashonaland Central three (3) staff members at Chaminuka Vocational Training Centre in Mt Darwin tested positive for COVID-19 positive. A staff member at the institution attended the burial of a friend who had succumbed to COVID-19 two weeks ago. The test results have led to tightened travel restrictions in Mt Darwin. At Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo, over 40 staff members at the Opportunistic Infection (OI) Clinic reportedly tested positive to COVID-19. Including these latest confirmations, more than 75% of staff members at Mpilo Central Hospital tested positive for COVID-19. It was reported that staff members who test positive are required to return to work after 10 days of self-isolation without another test being done to check if they are negative.

The Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda announced that due to COVID-19, next week’s Cabinet meeting has been rescheduled to 18 August 2020, and that the session will be held on a virtual platform.

Mr Ronald Magweta and Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) have approached the High Court seeking an extension of the starting time of the curfew to 8 pm. This comes after the government imposed a 12-hour dusk-to-dawn curfew which begins at 6 pm ending at 6 am the following day. Mr Magweta and WALPE cited the Minister of Health and Child Care, the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, and Police Commissioner-General as respondents in the application. According to Mr Magweta and WALPE, the current curfew is unreasonable because there is an acute shortage of transport in Zimbabwe.

Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Mr Edgar Moyo said the reopening of schools this year hangs in the balance as officials continue to monitor the rising COVID-19 caseload. Last month, the government deferred reopening schools to a later date from the initial July 28 owing to rising cases of local coronavirus transmissions. Government, however, is currently mobilising the required personal protective equipment (PPE) for public learning institutions.

Gweru and Bulawayo residents risked contracting COVID-19 as they jostled to buy subsidised roller meal at DCK Supermarkets. Police in riot gear and soldiers had a torrid time trying to control the swelling crowds at DCK Supermarket in Gweru where the roller meal was being sold at the gazetted price of ZWL70 at a time when some retail shops are charging as much as USD5 for the product. Inside the DCK shop in Gweru, security staff struggled to ensure customers maintain order as they got closer to the tills. In Bulawayo, DCK Supermarket dispatched a truck which sold the roller meal in high-density suburbs. Residents of Cowdray Park and Nkulumane also stampeded to buy the basic commodity without the hustle of going into the central business district of the second capital.

The Deputy Minister for Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Tino Machakaire tested positive for COVID-19 and is now in self-isolation. He also appealed to those that were in contact with him to immediately go for testing. Deputy Minister Machakaire, who becomes the third parliamentarian, but first minister to go public with his COVID-19 status after Ruth Labode and Tongai Mnangagwa, took to his Facebook timeline to announce the test results.

Striking health workers did not receive their July salaries after the Health Services Board (HSB) implemented the no-work-no-pay principle. Nurses have been on strike since June, at a critical time when their services are required in the fight against COVID-19.

On 7 August, Noxolo Maphosa, a niece to Josphat Ngulube was abducted, tortured and sexually assaulted by suspected State security agents. It is alleged that State security agents tortured her to review the whereabouts of her uncle and human rights defender Josphat Ngulube who is being hunted in connection with the 31st July protests. It was reported that Maphosa was walking to a butchery near Pick n Pay (Hyper) supermarket in Bulawayo at about 10 am when she noticed four men walking behind her. Shortly after, the men blindfolded and drove her to an unknown location. One of the unknown assailants took a knife, cut open her undergarments and repeatedly assaulted her with logs and sjamboks. The unknown assailants also demanded that she produces her phone she uses for WhatsApp. Maphosa was later driven to Cowdray Park where she was dumped.

On August 5, David Mutendera failed get transport out of Harare CBD. He only managed to get back to Mabvuku at 7 pm after the 6PM COVID-19 induced curfew. Soldiers patrolling the streets in Mabvuku assaulted him rifle buts and sjamboks for allegedly defying the curfew. He sustained injuries on his face, back and legs.

Summary of violations
The table below summarises COVID-19 related human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 9 August 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 Journalists20Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Beitbridge, Bulawayo
Arrests511Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mwenezi, Guruve, Hwange, Murwi, Kwekwe, Chinhoyi, Chiredzi
Gunshots2Chitungwiza, Bulawayo

Court Update
Magistrate Nduna of Harare Magistrates Court has denied to grant bail to Hopewell Chin’ono in another application filed by his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.  The lawyer had argued that there was need to review his bail application based on changed circumstances. She also argued that Chin’ono’s continued incarceration in prison will expose him to infection of the corona virus.  

In another related development, the High Court in Masvingo has set the hearing of the bail appeal for Godfrey Kurauone, the Ward 4 Councillor to 12 August 2020, meaning that he will spend the long weekend in jail as he waits for the finalisation of his appeal.

The Forum remains gravely concerned by the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections that continue to rise.  The Forum, therefore, urges the government to do the following:

  • COVID-19 Taskforce to properly devise and implement strategies that target the hotspots that are contributing to the increase of local transmissions of COVID-19;
  • Provide personal protective equipment to all front-line workers and other law enforcement officers to curb in-country transmissions;
  • The Ministry of Health to provide adequate personal protective equipment to all health workers at all institutions in the country;
  • To ensure adequate dissemination of information to citizens to ensure that they are informed on the COVID-19 pandemic and measures required to curb the spread of infections.

Further the Forum also registers its grave concern that abductions and torture of citizens continue unabated.  The Forum therefore calls on the relevant government authorities to take concrete measures to investigate, arrest and prosecute all those who are guilty of committing this crime and to ensure the safety and security of citizens.

The Forum further notes with concern that the growing trend to delay bail applications or appeals at the courts, at a time when prisons are failing to cope with the numbers of prisoners, and the country is facing the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum therefore urges the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Judicial Services Commission to intervene and ensure that bail applications are expedited.  

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)

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