Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 163 – WCoZ Situation Report

163 days of Covid-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 8 September 2020, the total number of Covid-19 cases increased to 7 388. Active cases are now at 1 693, after 90 new cases were recorded. The death toll currently stands at 218. A total of 5 477 recoveries have been recorded to date.

We remind the general public that the active cases in Zimbabwe continue to rise, the death toll is on an upward trend and the vigilance of the communities and health sector to the surges and increases in cases must be guarded against despite continued relaxation for measures.

We welcome the opening of Parliament and call upon the Member of Parliaments and the independent institutions to support democracy, to step up efforts to raise critical questions and oversight of actions taken and being taken by the Executive during the Covid-19 response. Covid-19 has been an extraordinary global and national emergency and must be accounted for specifically and expressly. Indeed we call for a commission of enquiry to ensure that the actions of the Government are fully accounted for and to the full satisfaction of the Zimbabwean public. 

Critical Emerging Issue

Access to information and the digitalisation of Covid-19 

We note the recent hikes in data and communication tariffs. 

Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown restrictions, has seen countless communications and opportunities migrating to the internet and social media platforms. Business and communities in general, have, for example had learn how to utilise applications such as ZOOM, Skype, Twitter for access to information. 

The Ministry of Health and Child-Care has also heavily relied on platforms such as Twitter to disseminate information, updates and statistics on Covid-19. 

As much as these platforms are convenient modes of communication, our grassroots monitoring has revealed that digital platforms are not easily accessible to the majority of women and girls in the urban, peri-urban and rural communities throughout Zimbabwe. The reports have also revealed how the digitalisation of the Covid-19 crisis response has exacerbated their lack of capacity to contribute to political and democratic processes. 

Rural women have been excluded. The access to devices as well as the supporting costs to access and use online platforms have barred rural communities from participating in digital spaces making the need to maintain corridors of real time access to physical gatherings, meetings, trainings and transactions. 

The cost of data bundles itself, and poor connectivity have been formidable enemies for the women constituency, thus negatively impacting on women’s fundamental freedoms of expression and access to information.

Whilst the call to further ease measures and return to the new normal are notable and inevitable, the persistence of the digital divide should not be entrenched.

  • We continue to call for expansion of the digital frameworks, infrastructure development and deployment and the expansion of access to digital platforms to be prioritised and be made a concrete part for the national development agenda and programs of Zimbabwe.
  • We therefore urge development and implementation of strategies to ensure that marginalized sections of society are not excluded regarding access to information in the time of Covid-19.

Outstanding issue

Local transmission cases

Statistics show that Covid-19 local transmission cases are on the rise. Our monitoring suggests that public spots and workplaces may have become hotspots for community transmission. 

Long queues at banking halls has also become a cause for concern, as we have observed lack of physical distancing.

  • We urge citizens to observe physical distancing as they meet and interact in public places such as banking halls.
  • We continue to call for the strict implementation of public health safety protocols in the public transport system.

We further recommend community mass and mobile testing of the general public.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)

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