367 days of the COVID-19 lockdown, and as of 31 March 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 36 858 after 19 new cases were reported. All are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Bulawayo with 7 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate as of 1500hrs on the 30th of March 2021 went down to 47 hospitalised cases, 9 asymptomatic cases, 26 mild to moderate cases, 9 severe cases and 3 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down to 701. The total number of recoveries went up to 34 636, increasing by 19 recoveries. The recovery rate still stands at 94%. A total of 3 193 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 72 944. A total of 1 063 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 12 922. The death toll now stands at 1 521.
We note the extensive regulations set in place to reduce opportunities for the potential spread of infection during the upcoming Easter-Break. We note regulation pertaining to the reduction of inter-provincial travel in regards to learners staying within Boarding Schools during the Easter break, which is a cause of distress in families and communities. We urge practical measures to ensure that centres of learning, do not become platforms for the spread of COVID-19 infections due to inadequate water and sanitisation support or inadequate social distancing infrastructure. We call upon the deployment of social welfare officers to inspect schools and support teachers and schooling staff to support learner who may be in psychological distress. We continue to call for mental health support to citizens to be make practically accessible to communities.
Critical emerging issue
Gender lens for national COVID-19 response and recovery
We continue to urge gender equality and women representation in COVID-19 response structures. We emphasize that the impacts of COVID-19 have been neither gender blind nor gender-neutral and that women have taken the hardest hit. Therefore, they should be allowed the space to be architects of their own solutions. We stress that women’s leadership, experiences and perspective are fundamental to the development of a gender-lens response and recovery. Participation and equal representation of women, as provided in Zimbabwe’s policy and legislative framework cannot be dispensed within the COVID-19 recovery path. Not only is this important for the achievement of gender equality and democracy, but gender machineries and women’s organizations work closely with communities and therefore possess unapparelled knowledge and experience on the challenges, women are facing on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, they constitute the voice of authority when it comes to the design and implementation of gender lens recovery strategies. We therefore recommend:
- As a starting point, more women including women’s rights organisations should form part of the steering committees for COVID-19 response Coordination, such as the COVID-19 National Taskforce.
- The Zimbabwe Gender Commission, to push for accountability to equal gender representation and balance in such key Committees, as envisaged by sections 17 and 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
- Urgent publicization 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.
Social protection measures
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 care-giving burdens. We emphasize the need for prioritization of women’s access to social safety nets during COVID-19. We note the announcement regarding the increase for the amount to be distributed to beneficiaries of the Cash Transfer System for vulnerable persons in COVID-19. The amount has moved upwards from ZWL $300 to ZWL $1500. In US Dollar terms the increase is from USD $3.50 to USD $17.80.
- We continue to 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 National Social Protection Policy Framework.
- We urge Government to expand social safety nets and offset economic impacts for COVID19.
- We reinforce our calls for the provision of support for households who are no longer able to sustain themselves due to loss of livelihoods, especially women-led households and child-headed households.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe