Information contained in this report is derived 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)
- Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR)
- Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights)
Excerpts from reports generated by Community Radio Harare have also been incorporated into this report.
3.0 Emerging issues
3.1 Lockdown enforcement
A Bulawayo man died in the early hours of 24 May 2020 after having been shot by police. Paul Munakopa (35) from Matsheumhlope in Bulawayo, died at United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) where he had been rushed for treatment. The deceased is said to have been in a suspiciously parked car in Malindela suburb of Bulawayo when he was approached by police who were with the community’s neighbourhood watch committee who were driving a Toyota Prado. He is said to have taken off at high speed resulting in a high-speed chase with the police. Police then shot at the deceased’s motor vehicle injuring Munakopa who was then taken to the hospital where he succumbed from the injuries sustained when he was shot. Police promised to issue a statement on the shooting.
Law enforcement officers have intensified the enforcement of the national lockdown nationally. Reports from various community members nationally point to an increase in police patrols. The intensified enforcement of the national lockdown follows the increase in vendors and informal traders defying the national lockdown. At Makoni Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza, running battles between police officers and vendors were observed. It was reported that vendors ignored the directive and the police to disperse from various vending sites at Makoni Shopping Centre. Following the defiance, the police had to use teargas to displace the defiant vendors.
At Huruyadzo in Chitungwiza, it was also reported that police officers harassed and intimidated vendors, informal traders and community members who had been interviewed by journalists on the current state of affairs in the country. The community members were harassed for expressing their displeasure towards the government particularly relating to the continuous increase in prices of basic commodities and the unavailability of water.
In, Highfield in Harare, it was reported that vendors and informal traders at Gazaland Shopping Centre and Mastones Complex vendors were paying bribes of up to USD5 to police officers to allow them to go about their business. It was alleged that police officers were soliciting for bribes from vendors and combi drivers who have resurfaced in the area for them not to be arrested. In one of the incidents caught on video, police officers were soliciting for a bribe from the motorist who was allegedly driving without wearing a face mask. It was also reported that in Norton, police officers were soliciting for bribes from shop owners to operate freely.
In Damafalls, police officers were spotted at Calf Business Centre encouraging people to wear face masks. However, beerhalls like Mother and Son and Big Fish were open up to 1800 hours. The beerhalls were crowded with patrons who were not observing social distance or drinking alcohol. Similarly in Waterfalls, Jongwe Corner bar was open, though the doors were locked to avoid detection by law enforcement officers.
3.2 Right to water
In Bulawayo, residents have expressed concern over the persisting water shortages being experienced in the city. This follows the introduction of a six-day water rationing program by the Bulawayo City Council. The water situation in high-density suburbs has become desperate such that people with private boreholes are selling 20 litres of water for up to ZWL5. Other people have resorted to sinking shallow wells in wetlands. Given the current COVID-19 regulations which require elevated levels of hygiene, community members have constantly raised alarm over the lack of access to potable water.
The rest of the country is not spared from the water crisis. Residence in most high-density suburbs across the country are also experiencing water challenges. In Chitungwiza for example, most households receive tap water once a week. The situation is even worse in Mabvuku and Tafara in Harare where water shortages coupled with dilapidated sewer systems have minimised sources of freshwater since wetlands and most wells are contaminated by waste.
3.3 Mandatory testing and quarantine
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana indicated that the temporary isolation Centre at Mkoba 1 Clinic in Gweru which has a capacity of 20 patients is ready to take for COVID-19 positive patients. He reported that three (3) returnees are already under observation at the centre.
To the increasing cases of confirmed COVID-19 cases in returnees, residents from border tons particularly Plumtree have raised alarm over the increasing numbers of returnees entering the illegally and circumventing mandatory isolation. To date, over 29 people have absconded isolation centres after processing. However, the total number of people who have illegally returned to the country from neighbouring countries cannot be ascertained.
3.4 Re-opening of academic institutions
On 22 May, the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education announced the plans to re-open universities on June 1, mainly for eLearning. However, the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) filed an urgent chamber application with the High Court arguing that the eLearning is unfair and discriminatory. ZINASU argued that most students cannot afford data costs or are simply handicapped by poor network connectivity. ZINASU also indicated that most students come from rural areas where there is poor or no network coverage to enable them to access eLearning sites. Many students also come from underprivileged backgrounds and are unable to afford the necessary equipment needed as well as the increased cost of data to enable them to access eLearning material.
On a similar note, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) issued conditions that they feel should be met before teachers for primary and secondary schools reopen in mid-June 2020 as reported in the media. According to ZIMTA, all schools should have running water for a minimum of 8 hours during which lessons will be conducted. Class sizes should also be reduced and more teachers employed to allow social distancing in classrooms. Teachers should also be given COVID-19 risk allowance and the government should provide personal protective clothing and sanitisers for all students and teachers. Further, health professionals should also be on standby at every school to respond to possible COVID-19 cases and the government should also develop a roadmap and a guideline which all schools should follow.
4.0 Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 24 May 2020.
|Nature of Violation||Number of Victims||Location|
|Assault||253||Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare, Marondera, Beitbridge, Domboshava, Wengezi|
|Attack on Journalists||16||Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Beitbridge|
|Arrests||338||Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mwenezi, Guruve, Hwange, Murwi|
|Malicious Damage to Property||2||Harare, Chitungwiza|
The Forum is extremely concerned at the death of yet another citizen at the hands of the police. We call upon the police to thoroughly investigate this shooting. We continue losing confidence in having the police investigate themselves where there are implicated. As the Forum, we have previously called on the government to ensure that an independent complaints mechanism for the investigation of complaints against police as envisaged in Section 210 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe is put in place.The increase in corruption and abuse of power by police officers is a worrisome trend. The Forum further calls upon the government and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate these allegations.
The Forum also calls upon the government to consult all relevant stakeholders as the country resumes normal operations. Of concern is the seemingly rushed decision to re-open schools without proper consultations and guidelines for learners and teachers. Bearing in mind the increasing numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases and community transmissions, in particular, the government should be cautious when reopening critical sectors such as schools and universities. The government should also address the issues of colleges, universities and schools that are currently being used as isolation centres vis a vis the proposed date of reopening of schools.