Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 214 – WCoZ Situation Report

214 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 28 October 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 320 after 5 new cases were reported. Active cases went down to 233. A total of 41 new recoveries were recorded; therefore, the total number of recoveries stands at 7 845. The death toll stands at 242.

Critical Emerging Issues

Complacency and disregard of public health guidelines in public spaces

Our networks continue to report increased economic and social activities within communities and businesses. The reports also reveal non-adherence to safety measures such as physical distancing, sanitization of workplaces and regular temperature checks. Our networks have also raised concern over some commuter operators plying long-distance routes failing to maintain public health safety protocols such as physical distancing, and sanitization. This raises concern as such slackening may affect the system’s ability to detect potential COVID-19 cases amongst the commuting public, thus exposing the public to infection. We worry that such conduct may lead the nation into another spike of COVID-19 cases;

  • We continue to call for the strict implementation of public health safety protocols in the public transport system.
  • We urge enforcement agents to ensure that physical distancing is upheld by public transport operators.
  • We urge citizens to observe physical distancing as they meet and interact in public places such as banking halls.
  • We urge businesses to continuously fumigate premises and workplaces for the safety of workers and patrons.
  • We continue to call for the strict implementation of public health safety protocols in the public transport system.

Violence against children

We continue to note an increase in media reports of untold horrendous acts of violence committed against children within the household, usually by their guardians or loved ones. We draw attention to the report issued earlier in March by the United Nations, raising alarm over the lack of protection mechanisms and early warning systems for children during COVID-19.  

  • We recommend the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to activate a proactive process of identifying and providing support to vulnerable children and families.
  • We urge Government to invest in key services for children, in health and nutrition, education and protection against violence are effective and direct means to reduce the occurrence of child labour in our communities.
  • We call upon CSOs, stakeholders and Government and to collectively support mechanisms to provide support to household through the deployment of Social Welfare officers to conduct the critical inspections at homes that are reported to be at risk and to respond to such risks by:
    • Ensuring that helplines for children remain fully functional 
    • Prioritising funding shelters and other places of safety for children 
    • Expanding critical services for children and ensuring accessibility
    • Ensuring community child protection committees are supported to play their roles as community care workers.

Outstanding 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 implications on 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 obtaining in the country. 
  • The Government working with other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the overall national sanitation and framework is gender-sensitive.
  • The rapid adoption of legal reforms to strengthen the sexual harassment legal framework in Zimbabwe.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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