411 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 13 May 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 38 491 after 25 new cases were reported, all are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Manicaland which had 7 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 12th of May 2021 were 13 hospitalised cases, 0 asymptomatic case, 6 mild to moderate cases, 5 severe cases and 2 cases in Intensive Care Units. Concerned that only Bulawayo, Mashonaland East, Parirenyatwa and Health Point in Harare are the only centres that reported their respective hospitalisation rates today. Active cases go up to 623. The total number of recoveries went up to 36 277 increasing by 9 recoveries. The recovery rate is at 94.3%. A total of 10 078 people received their 1st dose of the vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 559 875. A total of 11 577 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 192 145. The death toll goes up to 1 582 after 3 new deaths were recorded today.
Critical emerging issue
Transparency and Accountability in COVID-19 Financing and Vaccines Procurement
We highlight once more, serious matters arising from reports indicating the side-lining of Parliament and the violation of the Constitution on provisions for debt in Zimbabwe in the context of COVID-19 vaccine sourcing. We note the reports indicating that despite the recurring affirmations by the Government, of the availability of USD$100 million national budget surplus, the Government continues to incur debt to support for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines from China. We are concerned with reports indicating that Government has engaged with Afrexibank without prior engagement of Parliament and has now secured a USD$50 million loan to support COVID-19 Vaccine procurement. This action comes against the disclosure by Treasury, in March 2021 to Parliament that without prior engagement of Parliament, Government had secured a USD$10million loan to support vaccines procurement with the Arab Economic bank for USD10million to respond to COVID-19.
Whilst we are fully aware that the COVID-19 response has been financed by a mix of direct government budgetary expenditure, donations from development partners, the private sector and communities, we remain concerned by the weak accountability measures provided. We have repeatedly raised discrepancies in the public domain regarding the funding by Treasury to COVID-19 research, response and vaccines. We remain alarmed that despite the best efforts of individual Members of Parliament and some Committee of Parliament, to seek clarifications on Treasury funds, the response remains grossly inadequate and dismal. We therefore urge publicization of the following:
- A comprehensive public accounting of the state funding support towards the COVID19 Pandemic
- A complete accounting for the support provided by international partners.
- A thorough report on the expenditure of the contribution by the private sector, communities and individuals
- We call for the President of Zimbabwe to institute a Commission of Enquiry into COVID-19 Funds.
Access to Information on COVID-19 Pandemic
We highlight research reports by the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) on access to information by the media in the midst of the pandemic. The report reveals the experiences of the media practitioners during the pandemic in accessing information, effectiveness of Government communication and implications of various statutory Instruments.
We highlight with concern, such difficulties which include officials unjustifiably withholding critical information, not eager to share details and in particular, the referral of journalists to several other offices in order to access information. This has driven the perceptions of secrecy in critical information regarding the pandemic. We highlight further, the critique regarding the quality of information where media practitioners have raised concern over the application of “a cut and paste-information dissemination policy which has left journalists and citizens partially ignorant on pertinent issues about the respiratory pandemic.”
- We urge Government and stakeholders to adopt and sustain the principle of access to information in a manner that reflects the constitutional fundamental freedoms and values of Zimbabwe.
- We continue to call upon Government to adopt and maintain the highest quality levels of information dissemination and data sharing with the public.
- We amplify our calls for establishment of a Commission of Enquiry on the management of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2022 in Zimbabwe.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)