170 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 14 September 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 7 531. Active cases went up to 1 617, after 5 new cases were recorded. The total number of recoveries stands at 5 690. The death toll still stands at 224.
Noting the update from Government regarding preparations to resumption of the education sector, the critical engagement and effort made to consult, engage and prepare, we remain concerned on matter relating to the testing, tracing and treatment of education sector workers which remains an outstanding matter as the date for ZIMSEC writing schools’ looms.
We also note the formal opening of private schools around the country on Monday the 14th of September. Our monitoring shows that this formal opening of private schools in various instances is merely a formality, as most private schools have been operational and providing lessons to students using mixed methodologies for over two months. Whilst no significant issues arising have been noted from the full day’s re-opening, we remain vigilant to ensure that all schools maintain the highest levels of COVID-19 prevention and responsive measures in compliance with WHO guidelines to protect children and save lives.
Furthermore, we note with commendation the unveiling of the $600 million of funds by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to support schools to safely re-open. We note that the expenditure is directed at addressing chronic water and sanitation issues in schools, provision of PPEs, thermometers and sanitizers. We remain distressed however, with the allocation of the resources particularly, towards disadvantaged schools and communities. In the same breadth, we continue to raise concerns regarding schools which have to mobilize resources from already impoverished parents whose incomes have been decimated, so as to procure the required PPE to fit the public health guidelines.
Critical Emerging Issues
Resumption of operations for specific sectors
We note the relaxation of the lockdown, and approval of resumption of operations for certain sectors as follows:
- The resumption of inter-city travel to facilitate the movement of examination candidates, citizens and tourism visitors.
- The resumption of operations and all suspended activities by the VID, including issuing of licences.
- The resumption of operations at the Central Registry, which includes issuance of birth certificates, passports, etc.
We emphasize on the need to ensure that systems are put in place to monitor implementation and observance of COVID-19 safety protocols and public health guidelines in the operations of these institutions.
In addition, while commending the resumption of the Central Registry, particularly the issuing of birth certificates, we highlight the plight of mothers who recently gave birth during the lockdown, and may still continue to face challenges in accessing the Central Registry despite its resumption of operations.
- We therefore recommend putting in place strategies for ensuring that parents can easily access documentation for their newly born babies, such as establishing community mobile Documentation offices which are easily accessible to the communities.
We are distressed with the status of testing capacity in Zimbabwe, especially in light of the current relaxation of restriction measures, and also the communities’ complacent and negligent behaviours which disregard the COVID-19 public health guidelines.
We note the reduced number of COVID-19 tests being conducted, as shown by the Ministry of Health and Child Care statistics. Noting further with concern reports from our networks that persistently raise issues pertaining to details in obtaining results of COVID-19 tests
- We therefore call upon the Government to provide a clear plan of action to maintaining vigilance on COVID-19 testing ,tracing and treatment for the current period to Mid-year 2021.
- We continue to call for prioritisation and sustainable solutions to addressing the myriad of matters arising from the health sector industrial actions.
- We continue to call for the maintenance of affordable, accessible, acceptable and appropriate healthcare for all, with special attention to sexual reproductive and health services for women.
Placing women’s rights at the core of COVID-19 response
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 leadership structures. We call for ;
- 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)