Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 223 – WCoZ Situation Report

223 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 6 November 2020, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 471 after 27 new cases were reported. Active cases went up to 238. The total number of recoveries now stands at 7 983 after 8 new recoveries were recorded. The death toll now stands at 250.

We highlight reports that indicate that as of 25 October 2020, that indicate Zimbabwe has had a cumulative total of 8,276 confirmed cases, 7,797 recoveries (94 per cent) and 237 deaths. The reports indicate that as of the 25th of October, 77% of confirmed COVID-19 cases are in four provinces (Harare, Bulawayo, Midlands and Matabeleland South). We highlight that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, reports indicate that despite the weekly decline experience at the end of July to early October, the increase of COVID-19 case has faced a rapid increase. In the week 4-10 October, Zimbabwe experienced a 50% increase in reported COVID-19 cases in a week, representing an increase of 125 confirmed cases as compared to the week prior with 82 confirmed cases.

  • We call upon the Government to upscale its language and enforcement mechanisms to ensure that the contraction of COVID-19 does not resurge in a more extensive manner than the first wave. 
  • Whilst we acknowledge that the fatality rate in Zimbabwe is not high in comparison to regional countries, we urge the support of prevention measures to ensure we do not unnecessarily place communities at risk.

We highlight the various reports pertaining to rains and flash flood alerts for South Africa we note with concern the large rainfall predictions projected for Zambia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

We note with concern that whilst the majority of Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a heat wave, storms in the eastern part of the Zimbabwe two days ago led to extensive damage and the death of 2 persons. We note the efforts of the provincial arms of disaster preparedness and civil protection on the ground to assess and support efforts to strengthen community preparedness and resilience in the face of potential storms and flash flooding;

  • We urge communities to stay vigilant and aware of the weather reports in the upcoming days. 
  • We call upon the strengthening of preparedness of the civil protections systems in communities and ensure health and social service provision remains at the ready to extend support event during the restriction of COVID-19.

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

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 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 lack of adequate women’s representation in various COVID-19 structures. We provide the following recommendations:

  • A gender lens and responsive 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 structures.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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