12 November 2020
228 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 11 November 2020, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 667 after 57 new cases were reported, 33 are local cases and 24 are returnees from South Africa. Active cases went up to 366. The total number of recoveries now stands at 8 046 after 6 new recoveries were recorded. The death toll still stands at 255, after no new deaths were recorded.
Amidst growing euphoria regarding the progress of vaccine candidates, we continue to highlight studies in the global logistics chain management systems by DHL and McKinsey which seek to raise awareness and support progressive actions by Governments in anticipation of the COVID-19 vaccine global roll-out, towards the end of 2020 into mid-2021. The study notes that currently, more than 250 vaccines across seven platforms are being developed and trialed around the world. It further notes that as COVID-19 vaccines have leapfrogged development phases, stringent temperature requirements (up to -80°C) are likely to be imposed for certain vaccines to ensure that their efficacy is maintained during transportation and warehousing. Currently, the global cold supply chain management system conventionally distributes vaccines at -2 to –8°C. The report strongly urges that “To respond effectively to the next public health crisis, governments need to start putting strategies and structures in place today, rather than relying on reactive, ad hoc measures when the crisis hits.”
- We therefore urge the Government of Zimbabwe, during the restructuring of the health sector, and the on-going Inter Ministerial Team on COVID-19, to ensure readiness for vaccine distribution in Zimbabwe is practically planned for and invested in as necessary.
Critical Emerging Issues
Mobility challenges in rural Kariba
Reports in Kariba have indicated that citizens in Kariba are facing serious mobility challenges, following Government-imposed public transport restrictions. In Kariba, the DDF ferry (boat) which is one of the most accessible modes of transport to the rural populace, particularly to Mola, Chalala, fishing camps and other hard to reach areas, has not been operating since March 2020. Despite the relaxation of the lockdown measures, all resumption of intercity travel permitted, the DDF ferry has cited operational challenges linked to COVID-19 prevention measures.
- We urge the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, and also the Ministry Local Government and Public Works to ensure comprehensive implementation solutions to this challenge.
Use of brutal force by enforcing agents
Media reports have highlighted use of brutal force by enforcement agents against members of the public who have been contravening COVID-19 regulations at Mberengwa Growth Point. While we recommend strict enforcement of the lockdown regulations, we urge against the use of brutal force, and failure to follow due process of the law by the security sector.
In the same breath, we commend the consideration and approval of the Principles for the Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill, which paves the way to 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.
Congestion at Beitbridge border post
We highlight disconcerting reports of buses arriving at Beitbridge border post from South Africa without securing the requisite clearance at the Zimbabwean consulate for passengers at the country’s largest border post.
We note further that the officials at the border are presently not clearing those buses and their respective travellers for entry causing additional hardship on passengers which include a large number of women and children. We reiterate that this is a matter that was foreseen and we warned against earlier.
- We continue to urge the Zimbabwean Government to undertake robust engagements with the Zimbabwean community in South Africa to disseminate widely information regarding the changes in travel procedures and expectations by the Government of ordinary travellers.
We highlight that not all citizens in the diaspora in South Africa have easy access to information which can enable them to make the best decision for their potential travel needs and as such need the active engaged support of their Government.
- We call for strengthening the capacities of the consulates in South Africa and our neighbouring countries to better prepare Zimbabwean communities to access the necessary support on time to cross the borders. We are gravely concerned regarding operational and administrative readiness to support the reopening of land borders fully on the 1st of December 2020.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe