285 days of the COVID Lockdown, and as of 7 January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 18 675, after 871 new cases were reported, all are local cases of which 301 cases are from Harare. Active cases go up to 6 146. The total number of recoveries stands at 12 083, following 117 new recoveries. The death toll now stands at 446, after 15 new deaths were recorded.
Day 4 of the 2nd hard lockdown in Zimbabwe, and as the COVID-19 crisis deepens in Zimbabwe, we raise concerns regarding discrepancies in the recording of COVID-19 deaths.
While we acknowledge the difference between COVID-19 deaths and COVID-19 Associated Deaths, we note with increasing concern discrepancies from families and communities that indicate higher rates of deaths than officially recorded and reported by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
We therefore urge the Government to thoroughly and comprehensively record and report COVID-19 associated deaths to give a fuller picture of the pandemic. We further urge the Government to strengthen the reporting of COVID-19 pandemic status to Zimbabweans to strengthen the trust in public data and to support the change of behaviour critical to influence citizens to support the stemming of the disease.
Critical Emerging Issues
Prioritisation of women and girls’ rights and access to justice
Whilst Courts remain open as listed in the essential series designation, we emphasize that the entire domestic violence value chains must be supported cohesively to ensure the Level 4 Lockdown does not in itself result in a pandemic within a pandemic. We reiterate lessons learnt during the first hard lockdown in April 2020, where the majority of women during that period in the face of increased gender-based violence failed to timeously access justice due to the constraints presented by the lockdown.
- While, the COVID-19 situation presents some unprecedented challenges, we recommend that moving forward our Courts and the judicial system expedite the development and investment towards digitalisation of the Courts and remote working to ensure that citizens continue to access justice, uninterrupted by any calamities and unforeseen challenges.
- We further call for vigilance and strengthening of the violence against women and girl’s national response systems. We remain concerned by the current weak state coordination and collaboration to ensure that violence against women and girls is funded and responded to directly and rapidly.
PPE’s and Prioritisation of Healthcare sector
We continue to amplify the calls to Government to urgently attend to the rehabilitation and expansion of health facilities and services. Whilst we acknowledge the efforts made by Government thus far, we continue to call on the state, to prioritise the protection of our already fragile health sector.
We fully acknowledge and commend the cumulative release of ZWL$7 billion dollars to “to motivate and employ more health workers, procure testing kits, PPEs, sundries, sanitizers and to improve infrastructure”, we are however concerned with the on-going calls for PPE’s by various health care workers in multiple institution across the country. We highlight the actions of the healthcare workers at Harare Hospital who sought to magnify the current situation on the lack of PPE’s and the implications of those shortages on the ability to discharge their duties.
In light of this, we continue to urge demonstrable protection and prioritisation of the essential services sector, in particular, the frontline healthcare workers. We highlight that as the effects of the pandemic hit Zimbabwe hard, the healthcare workers are the critical glue to the capacity of Zimbabwe to sustain itself in the face of a pandemic and thus must be protected. We therefore call for:
- Prioritisation of remuneration and improved working conditions for healthcare workers.
- Aggressive pursuance of consistent and adequate provision Personal Protective Equipment for the health sector.
- Satisfactory resourcing the rehabilitation and expansion of health services and facilities.
Social Protection during Lockdown
We continue to critique the insistence to impose a hard lockdown wherein there are no ameliorative measures for communities on basic services such as food and water. It is against this background that, we continue to raise the urgent need for Government to ensure that the lockdown is supported with the prioritisation of livelihood support in communities. We highlight that while the structure to deliver social protection may already be in place, it requires prioritisation, thorough coordination, transparency and accountability to ensure undue hardship on citizens are directly ameliorated.
We further highlight that the lockdown can only be successful if citizens do not need to place themselves in danger as they seek to secure food, water and livelihood support. We underscore the fact that the inability of households to respect the lockdown is directly correlated to other persisting deprivation and insecurities they face on a day-to-day basis. The pandemic will continue to bedevil the nation especially, if the measures to increase access to social economic goods and services, as part of strong social protection systems, are not implemented by Government
- We therefore recommend that Government announces the direct distribution of basic commodities and food in communities similar to the subsidized mealie meal distribution program.
- We call for the expansion of the cash transfer support to vulnerable households and the direct increase of the amounts to support vulnerable households.
- We call for the provision of support for households who are no longer able to sustain themselves due to loss of livelihoods, especially women-led households.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe