518 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 28th of August 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 124 367 after 131 new cases, all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 31 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as of 15:00hrs on 27 August 2021 was 251 hospitalised cases: 14 new admissions, 32 asymptomatic cases, 152 mild-to-moderate cases, 46 severe cases and 21 cases in Intensive Care Units.
Active cases went down to 9 202. The total number of recoveries went up to 110 775 increasing by 226 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 89%. A total of 21 373 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 2 513 353. A total of 12 986 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 1 596 381. The death toll went up to 4 390 after 16 new deaths were recorded.
Critical Emerging Issues
Education Sector Resumption and Implications on Female Learners
We note with alarm the implications of the reopening of schools without wider engagements and dialogue with the sector. We note distressing reports of a growing rift between Government teachers and the employer regarding inadequate remuneration and support for teachers which is causing teachers to be incapacitated to attend to the scheduled reopening of schools.
We note further the tuition fees increase of at least 33% in schools around the country and even higher in non-state schools which are particularly playing a critical role in plugging the gap in a context of a 3000-school deficit in the nation. Furthermore, we note with concern the refusal of schools to offer payment plans to parents/guardians due to the fact that the remaining school calendar has one term essentially. At the same time, we note the highly depressed incomes of households due to the persisting long-term impacts of COVID-19 on livelihoods and the socio-economic sphere.
Before the advent of COVID-19, there already was a huge concern over the low school completion rate of girls in high schools, which was pegged at 48%. We note further that the rate has continued to drop due to the COVID-19 lockdown implications on young adolescent girls. As such we highlight the crucial fact that policy efforts to return and keep girls into classrooms are being threatened by a failure to address the costs of education and the mechanisms to support households to keep girls in schools during the pandemic.
- We urge Government to intervene and ensure that learners are afforded access to learning services despite of their financial circumstances.
- We urge the Parliament of Zimbabwe, to exercise its oversight role particularly in the advancement and enjoyment of the right to education, which is a fundamental human right, guaranteed by section 75 of the Constitution.
- We call upon the Zimbabwe Gender Commission to inquire into the state of access to education by boys and girls, in order to ensure that gender inequalities within the educator sector are minimized.
Social protection mechanisms during COVID-19
We continue to note with concern the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic on lives and livelihoods.
We note that the 2021 Budget Performance overview as shared by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, through the Mid-Term Budget presentation to the Parliament of Zimbabwe indicated, that Treasury is performing well and indeed there is already a USD50 million surplus on the books thus far. This statement supports indications by Treasury regarding the earmarking of expenditure for IMF Special Drawing Rights imminently due to Zimbabwe.
Consequently, we welcome the arising opportunities efforts to address the issue of addressing the devastation of livelihoods in Zimbabwe and strengthen social protection mechanisms.
Accordingly, we note with support the hearing on the Petition on Social Protection raised by the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe due to be held in Parliament this week. We call for substantive and progressive responses from the executive on this matter.
For the reasons above, among others, we continue to amplify our concern on the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, particularly that the majority of women in Zimbabwe and women-led households are facing the biggest impacts 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, taking due cognisance of the fact that a majority of women in the informal sector, such as the cross-border traders, have suffered severe loss of livelihoods.
- We continue to call for the resuscitation of the COVID-19 support scheme.
- We call for the adequate funding of a National Social Protection Policy Framework.
- We therefore urge Government to expand social safety nets and offset economic impacts for COVID-19.
- 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe