Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 221 – WCoZ Situation Report

221 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 5 November 2020, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 444 after 17 new cases were reported. Active cases went up to 221. The total number of recoveries now stands at 7 975 after 8 new recoveries were recorded. The death toll still stands at 248 as no death has been reported in the last 24hours. 

We highlight the report by the Ministry of Health and Child Care that a total of 653 healthcare workers have been infected since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. We continue to reiterate the call to provide sustainable measures to address the incapacitation of healthcare workers in a manner that is sustainable. 

We note the utilisation of the military healthcare personnel in public hospitals and whilst we note the positive contribution that the uniformed services make to public programs, we continue to call for strengthen and sustain civic interventions in the health care sector.

Critical Emerging Issues

Enjoyment of the constitutional right to access clean and potable water 

We continue to 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.  

We accordingly submit 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 on women in the following ways:

  • Risk of sexual harassment and violence against women and girls 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 Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission 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 water and sanitation framework is gender-responsive.
  • The rapid adoption of legal reforms to strengthen the sexual harassment legal framework in Zimbabwe.

Outstanding Issues 

Independent complaints mechanisms for security sector  

We commend the consideration and approval of 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 an 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.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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