171 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 16 September 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 7 598. Active cases went down to 1 551, following the record of 22 new cases and 40 new recoveries. The total number of recoveries stands at 5 823. The death toll still stands at 224.
We remain deeply concerned at the prioritisation of responsiveness to COVID-19 in Zimbabwe. We highlight statements by the WHO indicating the global pandemic is “still at the beginning” and “not even in the middle” and countries responsiveness to the spread of the disease is concerning as it indicates relaxation of measures and vigilance.
We encourage the Government of Zimbabwe to take heed in the practical measures to be adopted as socio-economic activities are resumed.
We continue to draw attention to our concerns of the opening up of public services such as the national registrars services for issuance of birth and death certificates, the opening up of vehicle inspection department which manages drivers learners tests and inspections of vehicles. Whilst we are alive to the pent up demand for these services and commend their resumption, we remain gravely concerned on the outstanding implementation of COVID-19 control measures such as retro-fitting of spaces and re-design of processes in public institutions to safeguard both public servants and citizens.
We remind the government that mandatory mask wearing and sanitization is not adequate to combat the spread of COVID-19 in highly congested, confined public spaces with citizens spending inordinate amounts of times in unending queues to access desperately needed services.
We call upon to the government to remember its commitment to reform the public service to ensure increased efficiencies and effectiveness particularly in the context of the pandemic which is due to be in our context for a prolonged period of time.
We note that our southern neighbour, South Africa is reopening its society on the 1st of October and international flights on the 1st of October. We note with concern the heavily inter-relatedness of the South African economy and the Zimbabwean economy and call for the development and announcement of practical measures to ensure that socio-economic activities between our respective countries does not result in untraceable imported cases.
Critical Emerging Issues
Report on the nation’s testing capacity
We continue to raise distress over 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 on testing tracing and treatment for the current period to Mid-year 2021
Child rights and safeguarding the girl-child
The on-going re-opening of schools calls upon all stakeholders, Civil Society Organisations and Government to reflect on the plight of the girl-child and her vulnerability in the time of COVID-19. Reports from our networks continue to highlight concerns over the reported increase in adolescent pregnancies and child marriages, which inevitably results in a higher number of girls dropping out of school.
Distressed with the devastating consequences of such status quo, particularly on widening the equality gap between boys and girls
- We recommend putting in place early warning systems and recovery mechanisms for adolescent girls during COVID-19.
- We further buttress our call upon Government and to actively support mechanisms to provide support to households through the deployment of Social Welfare officers to conduct critical inspections at homes that are reported to be at risk and to respond to such risks by:
- Expanding critical services for adolescent girls and ensuring accessibility.
- Prioritising funding shelters and other places of safety for girl survivors.
- Ensuring community child protection committees are supported to play their roles as community care workers.
- Ensuring that helplines for children remain fully functional.
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 the need to ensure that systems are put in place to monitor implementation and observance of 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe