220 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 3 November 2020, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 410 after 21 new cases were reported. Active cases went up to 222. The total number of recoveries now stands at 7 942 after 3 new recoveries were recorded. The death toll stands at 246.
We note with concern the report by Cabinet which indicates persisting low rates of learners and teachers in both Primary and Secondary education. We further note the resumption of classes by learners on the 26th of October 2020, particularly those in Grade 6, Forms 3 and Lower 6th classes, as part of Phase 2 of the re-opening of schools. We however remain alarmed at the overall learner attendance rate for Phase 2, which is currently reported at 32.02%, with the learner attendance rates for Matebeleland North and Matebeleland South standing at 7.10% and 13% respectively. We are concerned with these remarkably low rates in Provinces which have continuously faced the brunt of socio-economic disadvantages. We raise this alarm, especially noting the imminent risk of exacerbating already existing inequalities within the education sector against marginalized pupils and those who may be facing challenges attending classes.
We further note that the overall teacher attendance rate for the week was 27.16%, representing a 5, 71% increase from the 21.45% recorded last week. The incredibly low teacher attendance rate indicates Government’s unsuccessful efforts to resolve the challenges within the sector which have resulted in persisting industrial action and the incapacitation of teachers.
- We further urge Government to deeply consider the impact of the girl child in light of ongoing circumstances and to publish gender-disaggregated data on the learner attendance rate.
- We therefore call upon Government to engage in progressive dialogue to address the outstanding issues within the education sector.
- We remain concerned at policy measures that are not robustly supported by financial and operation mechanisms to bring practical progress to the lives of Zimbabwean communities without undue hardship.
Critical Emerging Issues
Independent complaints mechanisms for security sector
We commend the consideration and approval the Principles for the Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill as presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. The process kick-starts the development process of an Act of Parliament as guided by section 210 to ensure effective and independent complaints mechanism for members of the public to report and remedy misconduct by members of the security services.
- We urge the Government to undertake a process that delivers a progressive and robust draft legal bill through extensive engagements and consultations with Zimbabwean communities, especially women and girls, who have experienced the weaknesses of present legal and operational system.
- We further call upon the Government to ensure that the bill is sensitive to the realities of women rights and fragilities faced by vulnerable persons and disadvantaged communities.
Outbreak of water borne diseases
We continue to note and monitor the outbreak of Typhoid in Budiriro and Glenview. Concerned that the water crisis currently obtaining in the country, is a major driver of health hazards such as this one, and noting that not so long ago, another outbreak was recorded in Bulawayo, which resulted in a number of lives being lost.
We further highlight the outbreak of diarrhoea with a recorded a total of 2,600 cases since June 2020 to date, with 600 cases being recorded in the past month alone, according to health service figures. We further note with distress, that the majority of cases recorded are among children under the age of five years old.
We highlight with distress the deterioration of the quality of life in sanitation deprived communities and in particular reports of Bulawayo communities harvesting water from sewers in desperation.
- We continue to urge Government and other stakeholders to implement comprehensive measures to address the water crisis.
- We urge the Courts to strengthen the justiciability of socio-economic rights as they are intrinsically linked to civil and political rights in particular the right to life.
- In addition, we urge the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to closely monitor and investigate the status of the right to water vis-a vis, the water crisis currently obtaining in the country.
Health workers withdrawal of labour
We note reports indicating withdrawal of labour by Nurses. Concerned that these developments are taking place at a time when the Nation is grappling with various health challenges, including the recent typhoid outbreak in Zimbabwe. We are concerned that these developments directly affect the women of Zimbabwe and their enjoyment of the constitutional right to health. Aware that these challenges are further compounded by the severe shortages of critical medication in hospitals and unavailability of critical medical equipment.
- We urge a prompt dialogue and consensus between Government and the Health sector in arriving at solutions to ensure the progressive realisation of the right to health without any impediments.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe