This report covers two days, Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 July 2020 which marked days 116 and 117 of the national lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and has been in place since 30 March 2020 respectively. By Sunday 26 July 2020 confirmed COVID-19 cases had increased to two thousand five hundred and twelve (2 512). Local transmissions accounted for one thousand four hundred and eighty-six (1 486). The number of cumulative tests done stood at one hundred and nineteen thousand eight hundred and sixty-six (119 866). The death toll increased to (34).2.0 Methodology
Information contained in this report is derived from the following Forum Members:
- Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP)
- Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
- Counselling Services Unit (CSU)
- Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR)
- Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights)
- Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA)
The National Police Spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi issued a press statement in which he announced conditions required for citizens to be grated exemption letters. The documents considered for movement exemptions are clustered as follows:
- Health sector are required to be in uniform, and should have their work issued identification cards. Those in civilian attire, require a letter from the Medical Superintendent or Chief Executive Officer (CEO) stating the place, dates, and times for reporting on and off duty.
- Companies/Organisations- letters from the Chief Executive Officer or General Manager stating the place, days and times of reporting on and off duty.
- Ministries/ Parastals and Provincial levels- National Level exemption letters signed by Directors and senior management stating the duty, place, days, and times of reporting. For provincial levels-an exemption letter from Provincial Heads stating the duty, days, and times of reporting.
- Commercial A2 and A1 farmers- an offer letter or lease agreement and exemption certificate from local Officer in Charge station.
- Workers for food retailers have to present certified copies of a shop licence and an exemption letter from the police, members of the public are implored to do their shopping within a five-kilometre radius of their residence to acquire basic necessities like food, gas and medicine
- To get medical supplies, one has to produce the medical cards or prescription and contact details of a doctor
- For the attendance of funerals, concerned relatives have to produce a copy of burial order to the local police station and need to be issued with exemption letters showing destination and dates of movement to those who intend to bury relatives in other areas.
All the documents must indicate the details of the person who issued them including their telephone numbers and designation.
Government gazetted Statutory Instrument 186 of 2020 Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Amendment) Order, 2020 (No. 15), which empowered police officers to seize any public transport vehicle or other vehicle which doesn’t fall under the category of essential services, to carry passengers for commercial purposes. Government also advised that it had completed working on guidelines for the transport sector. The guidelines were said to be under the consideration of the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure that they are in line with protocols that curb the spread and transmission of COVID-19.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Publicity Mr Nick Mangwana reported that churches are still allowed to hold services as long as they satisfy the following conditions:
- They should disinfect premises before and after each service.
- They should have facilities to wash hands or sanitise hands.
- Mandatory temperature checks for all congregants.
- Congregants should wear masks and exercise physical distancing.
Meanwhile, police officers arrested twenty (20) members of the Johan Masowe Wechishanu congregation on the outskirts of Gwanda town. The congregation did not satisfy the necessary requirements like infrared thermometers, attendance register, hand sanitisers among others. Congregants were released after paying an admission of guilt fine of ZWL200 each.
Bulawayo City Council Director of Health Services, Dr Edwin Sibanda identified Cowdray Park, Magwegwe West, Nkulumane and Emganwini suburbs as having the highest number of infections while in terms of institutions, the hotspots have been identified as Mpilo Central Hospital, United Bulawayo Hospitals, Khami Maximum Prison and Bulawayo Prison. Nonetheless, it could not be established how many confirmed cases were attributed to each locality.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chief elections officer Mr Utloile Silaigwana advised that electoral activities will soon commence under strict COVID-19 guidelines crafted by ZEC to allow for safe resumption of elections. Addressing journalists, Mr Silaigwana stated that the new COVID-19 policy on electoral activities will include mandatory temperature checks for voters, sanitisation of participants, equipment and election material, and social distancing. ZEC has adopted a final draft of the guidelines following a consultative process with stakeholders.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube advised that one million households will start receiving ZWL300 monthly pay-outs as part of the government’s efforts to cushion people whose sources of income have been affected by COVID-19. Addressing a ZANU PF Provincial Co-ordinating Committee (PCC) meeting in Gwanda, Professor Ncube advised that the total number of beneficiaries might rise depending on the response from the public. However, details of the criteria and mode of payment of the ZWL300 pay-outs were not publicised.
Chief Co-ordinator for the National Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Agnes Mahomva advised that government is procuring more personal protective equipment (PPE) and undertaking extensive training of healthcare workers to effectively use available gear to curb the spread of COVID-19 within the health workforce. This comes as 323 health workers have contracted COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak in March as local infections continue to rocket.
5.0 Attack on Journalists
Journalists Blessed Mhlanga and Ruvimbo Nyikadzino were arrested at a police-controlled checkpoint on their way into the CBD for a press conference which had been called by the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Senator Monica Mutsvangwa. The two were detained at Mabvuku Police station. According to Blessed Mhlanga, the duo was turned away at a checkpoint and told to return to their places of residents. The journalists complied and subsequently made a call to the National Police Spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi to explain the situation. The National spokesperson then informed them that he had spoken to the commanders at the roadblock hence they could proceed to work. However, upon reaching the roadblock, the officers were agitated and said the journalists were not complying with their instructions. The two journalists were then arrested for a miscellaneous misdemeanour and taken to Mabvuku Police station where they were briefly detained. The Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) offered legal assistance for the duo.
6.0 Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 26 July 2020.
|Nature of Violation||Number of Victims||Location|
|Assault||280||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||27||Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Beitbridge|
|Arrests||502||Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mwenezi, Guruve, Hwange, Murwi, Kwekwe, Chinhoyi|
Nontokozo Tachiona, a lawyer and the Young Lawyers Zimbabwe filed an urgent application at the High Court Harare challenging the legality of a press statement issued by the Zimbabwe Republic Police. In the press statement the police announce that all people passing through checkpoints should have letters with certain information, which information according to the Applicants is not provided for in the regulations. Further the Applicants are also seeking that Statutory Instrument 83of 2020 and Statutory Instrument 174 of 2020 be declared unconstitutional.8.0 Conclusion
The Forum remains gravely concerned by the number of confirmed COVID-19 local transmissions. This comes at the backdrop of consistent defiance of the lockdown regulations by citizens and increased escapes from quarantine centres. Though the Forum welcomes the new lockdown regulations particularly noting their importance in curbing the pandemic, the Forum reminds the government that human rights for all should still be observed during the lockdown. The Forum further notes the increasing attacks against journalists and media practitioners by State security agents, the Forum calls upon the respect for media freedoms.