213 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 27 October 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 315 after 12 new cases were reported. Active cases went up to 269. A total of 7 recoveries were recorded; therefore, the total number of recoveries stands at 7 804. The death toll stands at 242.
We note with growing concern five more deaths to COVID-19 recorded in Bulawayo which currently has the highest numbers of positive COVID-19 cases and has 3 deaths of the 5 deaths recorded in a single day. We are concerned about the increase in the mortality rate and accordingly raise alarm at the increased cases of COVID-19. We continue to call for mass community testing and for vigilance in the health sector against the contraction of the disease.
Critical Emerging Issues
Water crisis and sexual harassment
We raise alarm over the ongoing water crisis which requires urgent redress. As growing evidence reveals that women have continued to bear the brunt of the water shortages, the correlation between water and gender can no longer be denied. Recent distressing reports have shown that women and girls in areas such as Mabvuku and Tafara have become vulnerable to sexual harassment by some water-bowser suppliers of water. WCoZ thus submits that an unresolved water crisis will continue to pose serious challenges for women and girls, thereby inherently giving 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:
- Risk of sexual harassment and violence against women while fetching water from undesignated sources.
- 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.
We therefore recommend the following:
- Long term comprehensive measures to address the water situation.
- The ZHRC to closely monitor and investigate the status of the right to water vis-a-vis, the water crisis currently occurring in the country.
- The Government working with other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the overall national sanitation and framework are gender-sensitive.
- The rapid adoption of legal reforms to strengthen the sexual harassment legal framework in Zimbabwe.
Community mass testing
While noting fluctuating statistics of active cases, and the increased relaxation of the lockdown, we recognize the need for an advanced test strategy which ensures community mass testing and contact tracing. We submit that in the absence of mass community testing and public accounting for local transmission case-tracing, it is impossible to determine the appropriate reflection of the COVID-19 pandemic prevalence in Zimbabwe.
- We call for increased testing and the ramping up of accessing testing kits and consumables for Zimbabwe.
- We therefore recommend 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.
- We further reinforce our call for an advanced testing strategy in the Public sector and urge Government to update the Nation on the progress of testing of all members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, and all lockdown enforcement officers.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe