142 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 17 August 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 5 308 confirmed cases after 47 new cases tested positive, of which 42 of these were local transmission cases. The death toll stands at 135 after 3 deaths were reported on 17 August 2020. Recoveries are recorded at 1756 cases.
- On the 16th of August 2020 45 new recoveries were recorded. At that date total number of recoveries was at 2092.
- On the 17th of August 2020 1756 new recoveries were recorded. At that date total number of recoveries was at 3848.
Whilst we will always be pleased at a high recovery we remain deeply concerned by the implications of an overnight increase in recoveries in the thousands without explanation,
It would appear that there is a change in policy in regard to how recoveries are treated and recorded. We call upon the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
We sincerely hope that recovered cases are not simply being considered to have recovered after the no longer displaying symptoms of COVID19 but rather are actually tested and seen to be negative clinically.
We note the change in policy regarding immigrants or persons coming from outside Zimbabwe who test negative for COVID19 will no longer be subject to mandatory quarantine but will be required to isolate at home/places of residence.
We note the changes in the COVID19 measures.
- We note the extension of business hours from ending at 15H00 extended to 16H30
- We note the change in the dusk to dawn curfew which shifts to 20H00 to 06H00
We continue to call out the use of excessive unlawful force against citizens particularly women, by enforcement officers.
We continue to call out the beatings and abuse of citizens pursuing legitimate activities during curfew such as seeking access to medical treatment in particular, the case of maternity /birthing services during curfew hours, who are subject to rent seeking and other forms of intimidation and abuse by enforcement officers.
Critical Emerging Issues
Delays in Implementing Social Protection Measures.
We have been consistently raising the direct correlation between the on-going lockdown on the informal sector and hunger in communities. The lockdown has resulted in most households’ exposure to food insecurity, due to loss of income. It is against this background that, we are enraged to note that the Government COVID-19 relief payment for vulnerable households is still pegged at ZWL $300, which is yet to be disbursed to the intended beneficiaries, anyway.
It is mockery to set ZWL $300 mobile money payments relief for an average household, when statistics show that the Food Poverty Line, for just one person in July stood at ZWL $1 329, while that of an average household stood at ZWL $6 643.
ZWL $300 can only purchase 3 loaves of bread.
We urge Government to desist from establishing such self-defeating and out of touch policies, which do not, in any way, improve the lives of vulnerable members of society, particularly women led households. Therefore, the COVID-19 relief scheme has failed before it has even rolled out, and requires to be re-visited.
- We query policy measures put in place by Government to ensure that citizens access basic commodities in the time of COVID-19.
- We further call the State to order, particularly on its duty to ensure that citizens enjoy the progressive realisation of their fundamental right to food and water.
- We recommend an increase in the COVID-19 relief pay-outs, and an expediated implementation of social protection programs for all vulnerable households.
Water and Sanitation
We highlight once more the extreme difficulties faced by communities in Bulawayo in regards to the two week notice that the city will not have water until a fortnight as authorities scramble to replaces a power mains cable that services a City of 1 million residents. We raise alarm once more to scandals regarding access to water and the incredible negative implications for women and girls lives.
The dire situation on water shortages has continued to force women to access the water from unsafe sources, exposing them to untold health hazards, including COVID-19. Our networks throughout the country, especially in Bulawayo have reported lack of sustainable means to access water, due to rationing schemes by Council. While in April, the High Court of Zimbabwe made a ruling on ensuring access to water by residents, there has been little compliance with the judgement.
While initiatives such as bowser water delivery only provide temporary relief, such measures are not the panacea to the problem as they are unsustainable in the long run.
- It is recommended that the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, and all local authorities in their respective districts, ensure adequate provision water, through the implementation of short and long-term strategies.
- We further urge the critical need for the rapid escalation of medium- and long-term water solutions as part of the COVID-19 response actions.
Safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights in the time of COVD-19
We continue to bring to the fore, safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights, during COVID-19. This is anchored on adequate representation of women in decision-making position with the COVID-19 response structures. We emphasize that women’s solutions should be informed by women’s experiences and lived realities.
We therefore highlight lack of adequate women’s representation in the health structures, particularly taking into consideration the recent substantive appointments made in the Ministry of Health and Childcare. We provide the following recommendations.
- A gender lens approach to all COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery efforts by Government, Parliament, Decision-makers, local authorities and other stakeholders.
- Implementation of Constitutional provisions, particularly, sections 17, 56 and 80, which speak to gender balance, and equality in representation in all spheres of the Zimbabwe society.
- Inclusion of more women’s rights organisations in the taskforce teams.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)