Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 461 – WCoZ Situation Report

461 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 2nd of July 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 52 663 after 1 442 new cases were reported, 1344 local cases and 13 deportees from Botswana. The highest case tally was recorded in Mashonaland West with 348 cases. The hotspots updates are as follows; Mashonaland West Province- Kariba (21), Karoi (20), Chinhoyi (61), Kasimure (20), Chidamoyo (17), Mashonaland Central – Guruve (17). We note the absence of updates from Mazowe, Mt Darwin, Centenary and Bindura. Mashonaland East-Murehwa (27) we note the absence of an update from Marondera, Masvingo Province- Chiredzi (109 ), Zaka (12), we note the absence of an update from Bikita, Masvingo and Mwenezi, Midlands – Kwekwe (37). We note the absence of an update on Gweru and Zvishavane. Bulawayo Province – Nkulumane (23), Emakhandeni (23) and Northern Suburbs (63), Harare 147.

We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 1st July 2021 was 404 hospitalised cases: 50 New Admissions, 75 Asymptomatic cases, 250 mild to moderate cases, 59 severe cases and 20 cases in Intensive Care Units. We note that Matebeleland South, Masvingo, Mash West and Midlands did not report. 

Active cases went up to 11 254. The total number of recoveries went up to 39 568 increasing by 157 recoveries. The recovery rate went down further, from 77% to 75%. A total of 5 308 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 788 004.  A total of 5 452 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 564 714. The death toll goes up to 1 841 after 33 new deaths were recorded.

We highlight the high number of deaths recorded surpassing previous grim high records of deaths. Our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the bereaved. We continue to call for the nation, both policy makers and communities alike to recognise the depth of the third wave in regards to fatalities that continue to soar. 

We continue to call for the resuscitation of the National COVID-19 hotline to assist communities with clearing suspected cases. We recommend strengthening of hotline response mechanisms to provide real time support to communities and households in crisis.

Critical emerging issues

Deployment of Security Forces to Enforce COVID-19 Regulations

We note the announcement by Government regarding the readiness to deploy  security services to assist the Zimbabwe Republic Police to enforce adherence to the lockdown regulations. We note the position of Government that demonstrates its belief that the current third wave is due primarily to community non- adherence to health and safety regulation regarding infection control.

We however proffer that the outbreak of the third wave may be attributed to a myriad of issues including the weakened responsiveness and increased complacency to COVID-19 within the both the central government and outreach government services in regards to vigilance and responsiveness to COVID-19 in Zimbabwe.

  • We continue to call for a fully inclusive approach and collaborative approaches of governance in addressing the COVID-19 Crisis.

Further, whilst we recognise the role to be played by the security services sector as provided by SI 83 of 2020, and other related instruments; we remain deeply concerned that the legal framework only provides penalties of violations by citizens for the COVID-19 yet does not speak to the right of recourse and protections of citizens from brutality and abuse by deployed officers.

Noting additionally; that the measures pertaining to COVID-19 Lockdown have significant operational gaps which may leave citizens unduly vulnerable to security forces, we remain concerned on the training and guidelines for deployed security officers on gender security awareness and responsiveness. Particularly when the deployment of Security Services in the past has raised serious concerns on their ability to provide their services whilst respecting the rights of women directly. Accordingly, we therefore demand that:

  • The Security Services Sector operates in accordance with the highest standard of respect for human rights, and standards of professionalism.
  • The State clarifies the scope within which the deployed members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces will operate, including:
    • The level of force to be employed by enforcement officers;
    • Authorisation to use arms;
    • Parameters of deployment
  • The Parliament of Zimbabwe stays vigilant in exercising its mandate in terms of section 119 of the Constitution, to protect the Constitution and ensure that the State and all its institutions act constitutionally, and in the national interest.
  • The Independent Commissions, particularly, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, be on highest alert during these critical times in ensuring that fundamental human rights are protected and promoted.
  • The Media’s right to undertake their constitutionally-protected mandates are respected fully by the Government during this period and further we urge the Media to remain watchful and continue to report without fear nor favour, any actions by the State, which may violate the rights of citizens. 

Outstanding issues

Mandatory Vaccination

We continue to highlight the actions and discourse regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in Zimbabwe. We note with grave concern the circular issued by the Public Service Commission regarding the mandatory vaccination of public servants who have all been categorised as frontline workers. We are fully cognisant that it is the belief of Government that slow pace of vaccination is due to a resistance to vaccinate. We would proffer to Government and policy makers alike, that vaccine resistance is not simply due to citizens not seeking to support public health programs, but, as global research has widely proven, is directly correlated to the wide availability of easy to understand, complete full disclosure of all matters surrounding vaccine development, vaccine monitoring systems, vaccine performance, side effects and ease of access to the vaccine. 

We continue to highlight that in an environment where the local vaccine mix has raised real time concerns, the current approach to dismiss public concerns on vaccines is not useful. Citizens have both constitutional and internationally recognised rights to information, to bodily integrity and safety, life and health. We reiterate that these fundamental rights and freedoms are inalienable, indivisible and cannot be suspended “for the greater good” without meeting the expectations, rights and demands of citizens.

 In the same spirit, we continue to object to a ‘jabs for jobs’ approach. We continue to object to the blanket categorisation of all workers, whether public or private sector, as frontline staff and persons at risk without due regard to the variables guiding infection control.

We note the reports indicating that 90% of the security sector has been vaccinated and whilst this is an enviable target and in regards to public health we continue to raise the negative implications of mandatory vaccination narratives.

We highlight the results of the national Afro-Barometer survey on COVID-19 in Zimbabwe, which indicated that only four in 10 people  (42%) trust the Government to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, and that only about half (47%) agree they are likely to try to get vaccinated.

These results indicate the lack of trust in safety and efficacy of vaccines in a context where Government is the sole procurer, sole information provider and sole administrator of that vaccine. As such, we underscore that primary focus ought to be on addressing those fears as opposed to making vaccination mandatory.

  • Therefore, we call for a national bio-medical citizen-focused address on the issues arising international and locally on the side effects and trends of the vaccines that are locally being utilised.
  • We amplify our calls for a national update specifically on vaccine performance with due regard to the four dominant variants of concern.
  • We request an official update of practical efforts being made to address congestion at vaccine centres and the applicable de-congestion efforts with timelines. 
  • We call for open debate on the available vaccines and the resources being utilised to procure the same
  • We urge a governance approach to vaccine that is progressive, inclusive, collaborative, consultative and responsive to citizens.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)

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