Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 185 – WCoZ Situation Report

185 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 29 September 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 7 837 after 21 new cases were reported. Active cases went up to 1 487. 10 new recoveries were recorded on 29 September 2020. The total number of recoveries stands at 6 122. The death toll rose to 228 after one death was recorded. 

We continue to bring to the fore, alarming findings of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe Survey into Gender-Based Violence with support from various partners, which reveal the following statistics:

  • The 43% increase in reports of violence compared to May 2019 
  • 74% increase in reports of violence from the preceding month April 2020
  • 43.8% increase in physical violence
  • 80.3% increase in emotional violence
  • 42.4% increase in economic violence 

We reinforce our recommendations to stakeholders, CSOs and Government of Zimbabwe too urgently to implement a dedicated ring-fenced budget to increase domestic funding for national GBV response.

Critical Emerging Issues

Hunger and delay in implementing social protection measures  

We commend the efforts of Members of Parliament to raise the issue of hunger in communities across the country. We further commend the efforts to reveal gaps in government policies in reference to access to food by communities as the lean season approaches. 

Whilst we are fully cognisant of the operations constraint faced by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, we continue to raise alarm on the delay in expanding and expediting access to food for marginalised and vulnerable groups as the lean season approaches. We urge all stakeholders to put shoulder to wheel to make sure no one goes hungry.

We continue to highlight the WFP report that indicates that 75% of Zimbabwe urban workers have been rendered jobless by the COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions. We highlight the scourge of exacerbated social vulnerabilities related to such a grave circumstance and the need for widespread aggressive rebuilding agenda to ensure that lives and saved in the pursuit of non-consultative economic restructuring that has a high risk to create jobless, rootless growth.

Whilst we continue to note that Government is yet to avail funds for the COVID-19 relief pay-out, we continue to remain dismayed by the lack of urgency by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to provide real tangible social safety nets. This has raised a general sense of discontent and disgruntlement by the communities over the delays in the implementation of social protection measures by Government.  

  • 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 therefore call upon the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to expedite the implementation of social protection programs to alleviate economic shocks upon vulnerable households. 
  • We recommend an increase in the COVID-19 relief pay-outs, and an expedited implementation of social protection programs for all vulnerable households.

The right to water

WCoZ through its members and partners, continues to reveal that the nation is facing a water crisis that requires urgent redress. The correlation between water and gender cannot be overstated. It is an undisputed fact that water plays a crucial role in the socio-economic status of women. 

WCoZ monitoring in all the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe, through its networks and structures reveals that women and girls collect water more often than men and boys.  

Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right for achieving gender equality and sustainable development.  

WCoZ thus submits that an unresolved water crisis will inherently give birth to an unresolved gender equality crisis. The basis of this argument has been corroborated in the current context of Zimbabwe, where water shortages have negatively impacted women in the following ways:

  • Increased burden of unpaid care-work as women have to constantly travel long distances in search of water for washing of clothes, food preparation and household hygiene.
  • Poor sanitation and hygiene, particularly for women and girls during their menstrual cycle.
  • Nursing mothers require more water than anyone else: According to the WHO studies, the basic requirement for a lactating woman engaged in even moderate physical activity is 2.5 litres a day.
  • Lack of privacy
  • Risk of sexual harassment and violence against women while fetching water from undesignated sources. 
  • We therefore recommend long-term comprehensive measures to address the water situation which should include Government working with other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the overall national sanitation and framework is gender-sensitive.

Outstanding Issues 

Education sector and access to water

We commend Government for demonstrating a commitment to ensure the safety of learners, teachers and supporting staff in the education sector, through setting up surveillance centres, mandatory screening and logging systems. 

We are however distressed by Government’s decision to bar from re-opening, schools who are not able to provide water to its beneficiaries. We are concerned that this measure is not only exclusionary but a gross violation of a constitutionally protected right, which is the right to education. Government is constitutionally charged with the duty to ensure the progressive realisation and enjoyment of this right. Therefore, Government cannot abdicate and delegate mandate. From time immemorial, we have been constantly raising the dire water and sanitation crisis in the country, and thus Government cannot pretend it is business as usual, by turning a blind eye and making unrealistic demands. We continue to bemoan measures which ultimately place the burden of the national pandemic on the shoulders of over-burdened and over-stretched communities.

  • We therefore urge Government to come up with comprehensive strategies to ensure that all schools have access to water.
  • We remind Government that every child has a right to education and therefore no learner should be discriminated and penalised on the basis of their schools’ capacity to mobilise resources for “procurement of water”.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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