Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report: 5 April 2020 – Day 7

1.0       Introduction

Emmerson Mnangagwa  Photograph: Valery Sharifulin/Tass

 

On day 7 of the National Lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on 27 March 2020 followed by the gazetting of SI 83 of 2020 Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) on 28 March 2020, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) continued to monitor the implementation of this declaration. According to official statistics by the Ministry of Health and Child Care as at 4 April 2020, positive COVID-19 cases have increased to nine (9) whilst 340 individuals tested negative for COVID-19.
It has been noted with concern that attacks on journalists in the line of duty by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers continue despite the designation of journalists as an essential service. Between 30 March and 6 April 2020, the Forum has documented 4 cases of attacks on journalists which include assault, detention and arrests.

The continuous increase in the prices of basic commodities in most of the few shops that are operating is a cause for concern. Informal workers have been forced to clandestinely resume their businesses to be able to afford food for their families. To a greater extent, the increase in community members violating the lockdown can be attributed to the need to provide for their families.

While most churches seem to have heeded the call for the lockdown as demonstrated by the fact there were no mass processions usually associated with a day referred to as Palm Sunday within the Christian religion, same cannot be said for some of the apostolic churches in Harare who were not abiding by the lockdown directive as some were seen congregating and without abiding by the COVID-19 measures.This report encompasses reports covering the 10 provinces of the country through reports received from the following Forum Members:

  • Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP)
  • Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
  • Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
  • Counselling Services Unit (CSU)
3.0       General Atmosphere 
President Emmerson Mnangagwa drove through high-density suburbs of Harare including Tafara, Mabvuku, Kuwadzana, Highfields and Mufakose. He also proceeded to Chitungwiza where he passed through Zengeza and Seke.  He was said to be on a tour to establish if the public had generally complied with his Lockdown declaration.  However, his tour excluded all places where people were queuing for basic commoditiesIn Harare’s Adbernnie suburb, long queues of shoppers who wanted to buy groceries at OK supermarket were observed. Community members were ignoring the social distance policy as they were packed in queues at the entrance.

In Chitungwiza, vendors were selling their goods in the streets at St Mary’s Chigovanyika shops and Zengeza 2 Shopping Centre. In Zengeza 4 and Unit J, vendors were patrolling the streets selling their goods. Heavy police presence was observed at Chikwanha shopping centre and Makoni shopping centre. In Chiwundura members of the apostolic sect of more than 200 people were gathered between 0800hrs to 1500hrs near Muchakata shopping centre. It was reported that the gathering included people of all age groups including children and the elderly. The interactions observed indicated a total disregard for COVID-19 recommended guidelines in social interactions.
In Mbare, police and military patrols were observed at Mbare Musika, Stoddart Hall and Matapi residential flats. In some areas, groups of people sitting at street corners were observed, most of which were drinking alcohol being sold in illicit bars. Some vendors have resorted to selling their commodities from their yards.

At Murombedzi Growth Point in Zvimba, there was less movement of people and some of the shops were open from 9am to 3pm. After shops closed, police officers were seen moving around with sjamboks and baton sticks chasing away people from the shopping areas. Some community members had to walk for more than 5km back to their homes as there was no transport to ferry them.

In most high-density suburbs nationally, there was an increase in the number of people who defied the lockdown to pursue economic activities.  Police officers on patrol are a risk factor in aiding the spread of COVID-19 by patrolling streets without protective clothing and bundling those defaulting on the 21-day lockdown in crammed trucks where social distancing is not observed.

4.0       Arrests
On the 6th day of the lockdown, during a raid, ZRP officers arrested 7 sex workers at Magaba, Matagarika and Nenyere in Mbare flats for violating the lockdown. It was reported that the 7 women were taken to Matapi police station where they paid admission of guilt fines of ZWL500 before being released.

5.0       Assaults

In Zaka, it was reported that soldiers in an army truck at Chinorumba Business Centre assaulted people who were buying groceries with sjamboks. It is alleged that people were accused of loitering and violating the national lockdown. Four (4) people were reportedly assaulted during the incident. At Nyagambu Business Centre in Zaka North, ZRP officers forced all shops to close down around 1100hrs due to the long queues that were forming.

6.0 Summary of Violations

The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March 2020 to 5 April 2020.

Nature of Violation Number of Victims Location
Assault 56 Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka
Attack on Journalists 4 Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare
Arrests 118 Masvingo,
Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare
7.0       Court Update
The Right to Water
  1. The High Court in Harare issued a provisional order, in favour of the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) ordering the City of Harare to provide safe constant and adequate water to residents during the period of lockdown and/or its extension. under case number HC2156/2020.The residents were claiming violations of their constitutional rights to water, health care, to life.Also, they argued that for them to fully comply with government COVID 19 regulations, measures must urgently be put in place for them to access water in their homes or at some points to enable them to practice personal hygiene and curb the spread of coronavirus.

    The City of Harare was ordered to present to the Court within 24 hours a maintenance schedule for all dysfunctional boreholes within the 46 wards of the City of Harare and to provide enforcement officers to protect the communal water points to ensure that people accessing water adhere to the social distancing guidelines.
    The Minister of Local Government, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare were ordered to play an oversight role over the implementation of the order.

    The High Court also ordered the Minister of Finance to ensure that the City of Harare has adequate resources to implement the order.

    1. Following this court judgment, the High Courts in Masvingo. Mutare Bulawayo and Harare have also been seized with similar applications from residents in Masvingo, Mutare, Hwange and Chitungwiza respectively.  The residents are represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.  Again today, the High Court granted to order requested by the Chitungwiza Residents Trust against the Chitungwiza Municipality, the Minister of Local Government, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance under Case No. HC2158/2020

    These are welcome and landmark judgments, which positively confirm the rights to water health and food for citizens as provided for in the Constitution of Zimbabwe 2013.   The Forum urges the responsible tiers of government to respect the rule of law and implement these court orders urgently to provide safe, clean and adequate water, not only in this period of the COVID 19 lockdown but also beyond the lockdown.

     8.0 Conclusion
    The Forum continues to call upon the citizens of Zimbabwe:

    • to take heed of the importance of social distancing as a measure to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    The Forum also calls on the government:
    • To, in the wake of the judgments from the High Court, immediately provide all the necessary and adequate resources to ensure that the citizens of Zimbabwe can exercise their rights to water, food and health care to effectively deal with the threat of COVID-19.
    • To publicly denounce the excessive use of force and beatings by the police, and insist on methods of law enforcement that conform to the Constitution and international law.
    • To properly equip and resource law enforcement officers with proper protective clothing so that they can effectively implement the national lockdown.
    • To avail resources to support  the vulnerable households with access to safe, clean and portable water and food.
    • To ensure the protection  of arrested persons by taking note of prescribed social distance measures during transportation and detention.

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