345 days of the COVID-19 lockdown, and as of 7 March 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases has increased to 36 289, after 18 new cases were reported. All cases are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Bulawayo with 6 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate, as of 1500hrs on the 7th of March 2021, went up to 136 hospitalised cases, 70 asymptomatic cases, 37 mild to moderate cases, 23 severe cases and 6 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down to 930 as the total number of recoveries went up to 33 872, increasing by 38 recoveries. The recovery rate now stands at 93.3%. A total of 3 278 frontline workers were vaccinated, bringing the cumulative number of the vaccinated to 35 518. The death toll has gone up to 1 487 after 2 new deaths were recorded.
Critical emerging issue
Social protection during lockdown
We continue to amplify our concern that the majority of women in Zimbabwe and women-led households are facing the biggest impact in food security, income loss, and caregiving burdens. We emphasize the need for prioritization of women’s access to social safety nets during COVID-19.
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, as communities will continue to defy regulations in pursuit of livelihoods and income. 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 adequate funding of the National Social Protection Policy Framework.
- We therefore urge Government to expand social safety nets and offset economic impacts for COVID-19.
- 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.
Equality and participation in COVID-19 decision-making positions
We note a big structural gender imbalance problem within the COVID-19 taskforce structures at District, Provincial and National levels. Statistics indicate that very few women have been included in the COVID-19 response leadership structures. Research in Zimbabwe and the world over, has underscored the fact that although women have been on the frontlines of COVID-19 as first responders, health providers, primary care-givers and engagements with communities, their meaningful representation in policy development and decision making on COVID-19 has remained limited. The effects of poor women’s representation in the COVID-19 structures have manifested in Government’s and decision-makers’ failure to adequately respond to the specific needs of women and girls during COVID-19, e.g in Quarantine and isolation centres. Moreover, this has also led to the failure by decision-makers in the Taskforces to collect sex-disaggregated data, in order to inform policies and gender sensitive policies on COVID-19. We therefore call for:
- Implementation of Constitutional provisions, particularly, sections 17, 56 and 80, which speak to gender balance, and equality in representation in all spheres of the Zimbabwe society. This includes COVID-19 Taskforce and Response groups at all levels.
- Urgent publication of analysed sex and age disaggregated data by Government on the composition of the COVID-19 taskforce teams throughout the country.
- Establishment of Gender Advisory Experts at all levels of the National COVID-19 Response Structures.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe