Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 197 – WCoZ Situation Report

197 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 11 October 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased 8 011, after 1 new case was reported. Active cases went down to 1 277. 12 new recoveries were recorded. The total number of recoveries stands at 6 504. The death toll currently stands at 230. We continue to advocate for expanded targeted proactive testing to match the rapidly opening up of our society and the clearly weakened adherence to anti-COVID-19 measures. 

We are shocked and appalled at the brutal incident which took place in Harare today where members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police threw teargas into a bus carrying women and children. It is concerning to note recurrent patterns of abuse of power and maladministration by members of the security sector.  

We, therefore, urge Parliament to expedite the drafting and gazetting of a Bill that establishes an independent complaints mechanism against members of security sector as per the Constitutional Court decision late last month. 

Whilst we note the public statement on the Twitter handle of the Ministry of Information and Publicity, we continue to decry the culture and practice of public policing that ostensibly made the police members on duty act as they did. 

We also continue to deeply critique the process of seeking to restructure the national public transport systems during lockdown without adequate resourcing, consultation and engagement which is having a direct negative impact on women and women’s rights. Limited public transport is creating a crisis for commuters and is subjecting women to sexual harassment and all manner of public abuse as they seek to access transport, a key enabler to their socio-economic rights.

Emerging Critical Issues

Delays in implementing social protection measures

Reports from our community networks continue to raise a red flag over hunger and lack of social protection mechanisms. We have been consistently highlighting the direct correlation between the on-going lockdown on the informal sector and hunger in communities. The lockdown has resulted in most households’ exposure to food insecurities, due to loss of income. 

  • 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 rights to food and water.
  • We recommend an increase in the COVID-19 relief pay-outs and an expedited implementation of social protection programs for all vulnerable households.

Outstanding Issue

Resumption of civil registry operations 

While we appreciate the resumption of operations of the Registrar’s office, particularly in issuing of birth certificates, we are distressed to learn of the new measures that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage has put in place to ensure safe operations. 

The Minister indicated that people wishing to obtain birth certificates will have to call the Central Registry first, get vetted online and are given numbers and dates on which they can visit the Central Registry. We raise concerns that such measures are discriminatory and exclusionary. 

Firstly, the Central Registry Offices are not easily accessible to everyone due to long distances which may require to be travelled. 

Secondly, most individuals to do not have resources and capacity to call the Central Registry in order to “book an appointment.” We have already noted how expensive communication and data has become in Zimbabwe. We raise these concerns particularly as we are aware that mothers of newly born babies will take the hardest hit of such discriminatory measures, particularly those in the rural areas and other vulnerable groups. In essence: 

  • We therefore call to order, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, to remind them of section 81 of the Constitution, which provides that every child has the right to the prompt provision of a birth certificate.
  • Government must refrain from placing undue burdens on women and children when the opportunity to transform is placed before them.
  • We continue to call for the retrofitting of critical public service spaces in ministries and government department and reorganising the access process in public buildings as a matter of urgency. 
  • We continue to recommend a rapid decentralization of Central Registry services, through establishing Mobile Birth Certificate issuing clinics in communities to ensure easy access by all citizens. This will also go a long way in decongesting the Central Registry and dealing with backlogs.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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