Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 218 – WCoZ Situation Report

218 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 1 November 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 374 after 7 new cases were reported. Active cases went down to 204. No new recoveries were made; therefore, the total number of recoveries stands at 7 927. The death toll stands at 243. 

We highlight the reports of passengers of 12 buses, 366 passengers, who are stranded in an administrative and operational cross point at Beitbridge Border Post. The Zimbabwean passengers cleared for re-entry to Zimbabwe by the Zimbabwean Department of Immigration have been denied entry by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) staff at the Beitbridge Border Posts. 

We call the Government to Order on this matter especially as the majority of the marooned passengers are women and children whose vulnerabilities are exacerbated by such inefficiencies and weaknesses in management. 

This stranding of passengers occurs unacceptably after the October announcement by the Government of Zimbabwe that Zimbabweans may indeed return from South Africa.

  • We call for stronger synergies and intergovernmental engagements to ensure that citizens are not subjected to undue hardship and infringement of their rights to dignity due to administrative and operational practicalities being fully attended.
  • We continue to call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to desist from making announcements and revising policy without putting in place adequate mechanisms to get the job done effectively and effectively with nominal hardship on citizens.

We note with interest the relationship between Apsen Pharmacare Limited Holdings and Johnson and Johnson to manufacture a potential COVID-19 vaccine in Port Elizabeth in South Africa with a capacity of potentially 300 million doses. We note with commendation the role that the two companies paly in the manufacturing and distribution network in Africa.

  • We remain attentive to these developments as we call for expanded support for global access and participation in the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by developing and less developed countries.

Critical Emerging Issue

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 bowser suppliers of water. WCoZ thus submits that an unresolved water crisis will continue to have serious implications 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 crisis.
  • 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 is gender-sensitive.

Outstanding Issue

Safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights in the time of COVID-19

We continue to bring to the fore, safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights, during COVID-19. This is anchored on the adequate representation of women in decision-making positions with 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 various COVID-19 structures. We provide the following recommendations:

  • A gender lens approach to all COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery efforts by Government, Parliament, decision-makers, local authorities and other stakeholders.
  • Inclusion of more women’s rights organisations in the taskforce teams.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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