Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report: 3 May 2020 – Day 35

Introduction

On Friday 1 May 2020 (day 33), President Emmerson Mnangagwa addressed the nation and extended the national lockdown by a further fourteen (14) days to the 17th of May 2020. This was followed by the gazetting of Statutory Instrument (SI) Statutory Instrument 99 of 2020 Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Amendment) Order, 2020 (No. 5) on 2 May 2020.As of 3 May, official statistics by the Ministry of Health and Child Care indicated that Zimbabwe had thirty-four (34) confirmed cases, including five (5) recoveries and four (4) deaths. On 3 May, a total of nine hundred and twenty (920) tests were conducted, increasing the cumulative tests of suspected COVID-19 cases to eleven thousand six hundred and forty-seven (11 647), of which eleven thousand six hundred and thirteen (11 613) were negative.

2.         Methodology
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 Heal Zimbabwe Trust and Community Radio Harare have also been incorporated in this report.

3.         General Atmosphere 
Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST) distributed food hampers to vulnerable members of their community. Beneficiaries who were selected from Seke, Zengeza and St Mary’s districts included single mothers, people living with disabilities, elderly women and orphans. The Community Water Alliance (CWA) conducted an assessment on water delivery in Zimbabwe.  The assessment indicated there is increasing pressure at public water points of which women and children continue to dominate visiting public water points. In light of the COVID-19, crowding at boreholes exposes women and children to COVID-19 and results in poor hygiene standards emanating from water scarcity.

The Minister of Information The government published a consolidated record of received donations towards COVID-19 response in the Sunday Mail of 3 May 2020. This comes after government officials were accused of misusing COVID-19 donations. The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development George Guvamatanga wrote to directors and top-ranking officials advising them that only sanctioned travel should be allowed to draw domestic allowances. In the letter, the permanent secretary advised that treasury had noted an increase in payment requests for funds for processing domestic allowances, narrated as COVID-19 payments for staff on duty during the lockdown. The publishing of the received donations is a positive step towards transparency and accountability.

The Matabeleland Forum, wrote a letter of complaint to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) over the alleged abuse of two (2) Cowdray Park female residents by members of the police last week. In the letter, the Matabeleland Forum indicated that the two (2) women were handcuffed, assaulted, labelled ‘prostitutes’ and tribally insulted by police officers based at the Cowdray Park police base after they had gone to the shops to buy some foodstuffs. It was also reported that the 2 women were harassed and detained overnight without charge. Since the commencement of the lockdown on 30 March, the Forum has documented 215 cases of assault perpetrated by police officers and soldiers.

Harare municipality police and ZRP officers demolished vending stalls at Sunningdale 2 shopping centre. Similar reports were also received from Mbare National were Harare city council officers demolished tuck-shops and other vending stalls and shelters. In Shamva, the rural district council was destroying illegal structures. The demolishing of structures continues unabated despite the High Court order granted after an urgent application filed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on behalf of informal traders and residents seeking to stop local and central government from demolishing vending stalls and tuck-shops across the country.

In Ngezi, it was reported that residents are walking distances between 2 to 3km to fetch water. It is reported that most households have not received taped water for more than 3 weeks. It was also reported that some people are relying on shallow wells dug in wetlands as sources of water.

It was reported that Highfields Polyclinic turned away 17 patients without face masks as required under the national lockdown level 2.  This was despite the fact the country would enter level2 with effect from Monday 4 May 2020.  Similar reports were reported at TM Hyper in Bulawayo where community members were not allowed to access the shop without face masks. However, it was reported that people ended up exchanging masks to gain access to the shop. Vulnerable groups from society cannot afford to buy face masks which are being sold in United State Dollars.

In Mutasa, community members at Hauna growth point observed social distance and stayed in their homes. Hauna district hospital and clinics were open and attending to patients. However, health workers are still complaining about the lack of personal protective equipment to protect them from infection. Similar reports were received from Tandi clinic in Mutasa where nurses at the clinic are still complaining over shortages of drugs and personal protective equipment.

In Tsholotsho, most clinics such as Sipepa and Samahuru are open but are only offering emergency services. Tsholotsho District Hospital has been designated as a COVID-19 referral centre. Prices of basic commodities have gone up with 10kg mealie meal being sold for 80 Rands or ZW$150. Community members are not observing social distancing as they fetch water at community boreholes.

In Buhera, it was reported that the Member of Parliament (MP) Honourable Mutomba used a ZANU PF register during a food distribution process that was being done by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Reports indicated that the MP substituted the register that the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare staff had brought along to use for food distribution. It was further reported that he oversaw the food distribution which only benefited ZANU PF loyalists.

4.         Assault
In Marondera, soldiers assaulted seven (7) people with sjamboks and booted feet. It was reported that soldiers who were patrolling in Cherutombo high-density suburbs attacked community members in their yards for allegedly defying the lockdown and not staying indoors. It is further alleged that they destroyed windows and doors during the rampage.  It is alleged that the seven (7) people sustained various degrees of injuries as a result of the assault.

5.         Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March 2020 to 2 May 2020.

Nature of Violation Number of Victims Location
Assault 215 Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare, Marondera
Attack on Journalists 12 Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo
Arrests 277 Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane
Malicious Damage to Property 2 Harare, Chitungwiza
6.         Legal Matters
The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) published the Practice Direction 3 of 2020, advising that the courts in the country will open at full capacity from 11 May 2020.  The courts will operate on the following rules;
  • Court Registries will be open for litigants, legal practitioners and the public on weekdays from 8am until 3pm.
  • Filing of court documents will proceed in terms of existing court rules, legislation or as directed in court orders
  • All matters are to be determined expeditiously without delay; this is to limit contact and attendance at courts by litigants
  • The Sheriff will continue to serve all court process and orders, but will not carry out evictions, executions or conduct sales in execution for the duration of the lockdown period.
  • The Marriages registry will remain closed in the lockdown period

The direction also requires all litigants and court users to be subjected to temperature checks and sanitization of hands at entrances; to wear face masks; to avoid person to person contact and maintain social distancing.  In addition, only litigants and witnesses will be allowed inside courtrooms and letters of clearance issued by the police will be required for litigants who are required to attend court in another province or district.

7.Conclusion
As a result of the above the Forum:

  • urges security forces to respect human rights as they are enforcing the lockdown.
  • urges the government to investigate allegations of partisan distribution of food aid
  • urges community members to adhere to the lockdown and to exercise social distance
  • urges local authorities to step up efforts to provide clean and potable water for communities.
  • urges the government to provide personal protective equipment to health workers on the frontlines

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