195 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 10 October 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 010, after 16 new cases were reported. Active cases went down to 1 288. 18 new recoveries were recorded. The total number of recoveries stands at 6 492. The death toll now stands at 230 after one new death was recorded.
We note with concern the sharp spike in local transmission cases of COVID-19 over the past two days with a reported total of 75 positive cases. We continue to urge real-time vigilance and the expansion of a proactive and aggressive testing strategy to support the resumption of socio-economic activities. We urge the Ministry of Health and the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on COVID-19 to retain the highest standards of disease surveillance and ensure Zimbabwe actively protects itself from a flare of cases.
In the past week we have noted the opening of schools, amidst a teachers ‘strike over remuneration and work conditions. This has resulted in most pupils having to attend school without any supervision. We have noted disturbing videos and images of pupils partaking in worrying behaviour and sexually illicit conduct. We urge the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to put in place measures to minimize such conduct, particularly by ensuring that pupils are well supervised in school.
- We recommend that if teachers continue with their stay-away, lessons should be suspended, and pupils allowed to go back home, until such a time when adequate measures are put in place to ensure the safety and well-being of pupils.
- We continue to urge the Government and the teachers to return to the negotiating table in good faith and with a progressive, sustainable agenda on the table.
Today we join the rest of the world in commemorating World Mental Health Day. We note that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the mental health of millions. We know that the levels of anxiety, fear, isolation, emotional distress and uncertainty experienced have become widespread as the world struggles to bring the virus under control. We urge the prioritization of mental wellness as part of the COVID-19 response.
Emerging Critical Issues
Placing women’s rights at the core of COVID-19 response
We continue to bring to the fore the safeguarding of women’s and girls’ rights, during COVID-19. This is anchored on the adequate representation of women in decision-making positions within the COVID-19 response structures. We emphasize that women’s solutions should be informed by women’s experiences and lived realities. We, therefore, highlight the lack of adequate women’s representation in health structures and 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.
We continue to draw attention to the Auditor General’s report which warns of a looming health crisis in Bulawayo due to water shortages. WCoZ monitoring in all 10 provinces of Zimbabwe, through its networks and structures, reveals that the nation is currently experiencing a water crisis that requires urgent redress.
Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right for achieving gender equality and sustainable development. WCoZ further notes that water shortages have negatively impacted on 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.
- The Government working with other relevant stakeholders must ensure that the overall national sanitation framework is gender-sensitive.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)