Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 216 – WCoZ Situation Report

216 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 30 October 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 362 after 13 new cases were reported. Active cases went down to 236. A total of 20 new recoveries were recorded; therefore, the total number of recoveries stands at 7 884. The death toll stands at 242.

As the first week of resumption of education classes for non-examination grades went past this week, we reflect on a week of chaos for learners and parents alike. We take note of the widespread reports of adolescent girls and boys, who are left unattended, as they are faced with limited to zero teaching staff in schools, due to the incapacitation of teachers. 

We raise the fact that the circumstances, as they are, constitute a direct undue burden on young girls, as they face the brunt of social and cultural consequences of adolescent behaviour in unsupervised environments. 

We raise concern at the persisting reports stigmatising young girls who are “outted” undertaking in “bad behaviour” online and on digital spaces yet young boys in the same or similar acts are not subjected to the same levels of public scorn and humiliation.

  • We urge our leadership in communities and public spaces to desist from mass sharing of such digital content as they constitute and sustain on-going and unending victimisation of students and young girls particularly.
  • We urge the Government of Zimbabwe to provide resourced, supported and coordinated free national hotlines for young people to find easy access to mental health care support to avoid social and mental health challenges faced by adolescents in distress.

Critical Emerging Issue

Live shows with large physical audiences in the artistic community 

As we once again enter a weekend, particularly a month end weekend which is a pay day weekend, we continue to highlight the reports of artistes holding live shows with physical audiences, which in itself is a contravention of COVID-19 regulations. 

Whilst we note, and highlight the incredible difficulties faced by the artistic community of Zimbabwe as a result of the lockdown restrictions and regulations that bar live performance shows which drive the lives and livelihoods of the sector, we raise alarm at the increased holding of live shows which have the potential to be super spreader events. In the same breath, we note the reports of the widespread occurrence of popular liquor nightspots, weekend gigs and other popular venues hosting live music shows around the country, without adherence to COVID-19 measures. 

We note the consistent and persistent rise in COVID-19 cases over the 25 days and note with concern that the mass resumption of sectors, without enforcement of COVID-19 regulations, is leading Zimbabwe up the curve of the COVID-19 contraction of new cases. It is against this background that we acknowledge the statements of the Zimbabwe Republic Police on the need to strictly enforce COVID-19 regulations.

  • We therefore call for increased awareness and publication of simplified rules on COVID-19 regulations.
  • We call for the expedition of real-time support to the artistic sector through both the resilience funds and the vulnerability support to ensure that the fragile arts sector receives real ameliorative support in the context of the on-going ban on their socio-economic engagements.

Outstanding Issue 

Enjoyment of the constitutional right to access clean and potable water 

We raise alarm over the ongoing water crisis which negates the fundamental human right to access clean and potable water. 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 viz-a-viz, the water crisis currently developing 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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