Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Weekly Monitoring Report 12 – 18 September 2020 – Days 167-173

1.         Introduction 

This weekly report covers days between Friday 12 September to 18 September 2020 of the national lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and has been in place since 30 March 2020 respectively. By Thursday17 September 2020,  confirmed COVID-19 cases had increased to seven thousand six hundred and thirty-three (7 633) cases.  The national recovery rate stood at 77% (5 841 recoveries) and two hundred and twenty-four (224) deaths.2.         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)
 3.         32nd Post Cabinet Briefing
The Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Honourable Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Chairperson of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the COVID-19 outbreak noted that the Ministry of Health and Child Care has adopted a symptom-based management approach to testing COVID-19 as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The guidelines prioritise the testing of people showing COVID-19 symptoms.The following resolutions relating to COVID-19 were made by Cabinet:

  • The extension of business operating hours including those of gymnasia from 0630hours to 1830hours given the re-opening of schools for examination classes, the tourism and hospitality industry, and aviation sectors;
  • The resumption of inter-city travel to facilitate the smooth movement of examination candidates, citizens and visitors. Transporters who wish to ferry passengers should register with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development to ensure that they strictly comply with Standard Operating Procedures for their sector which are compliant to the WHO guidelines and all COVID-19 regulations. In support of this service, the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) should also resume its services. Only international travellers are required to provide a 48-hour negative COVID-19 certificate.
  • The reopening of the Central Registry to allow the issuance of births and death certificates, national registrations as well as passports. Measures will be put in place to ensure that operations at Central Registry offices which are usually characterized by overcrowding are in line with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and WHO protocols to curtail the transmission of COVID-19. Members of the public will be informed on the timelines for accessing the critical services.
  • The partial reopening of the Department of Immigration, Client Service Centre for processing short-term investor work and student permits, issue visas at ports of entry and resume enforcement operations through the compliance section. The National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe will be opened to allow visitors access to National Monuments that include the National Heroes Acre and National History Museum.
4.         COVID-19 regulations
Following the relaxation of the COVID-19 national lockdown, the government gazetted Statutory Instrument 209 of 2020. Civil Aviation (Guidance for Air Travel through the Covid-19 Public Health Crisis) Regulations, and Statutory Instrument 216 of 2020, Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (No. 2) (Amendment) Order, 2020 (No. 2) which re-opened the air space and allowed regional and international flights into the country.  The national airline Air Zimbabwe has since announced that it would be resuming flight operations on its domestic and regional routes with effect from Sept. 23 and Oct. 3 respectively flying into Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls domestically with flights between Zimbabwe and Tanzania initially operating every Tuesday and Saturday.   Air Zimbabwe added that it would publish guidelines issued by the ministry of health, the World Health Organization, and IATA for air travel from time to time.The government also gazetted Statutory Instrument 216 of 2020 which among other issues, operationalizes the resumption of the aviation sector, regulates tourism operations under the lockdown, and the special provisions for liquor licenses.

  • Resumption of the aviation sector-
  • Tourism operations-
  • Liquor licenses- consumption of alcohol is now allowed between 0800 and 1630 at airports, hotels, houseboats, restaurants and members clubs. The sale and consumption of liquor by licensees is in three categories. The categories are as follows:
    • Licensees that may sell liquor to customers for consumption off the premises during licensed hours. These include wholesalers, wine producers and bottle stores;
    • Licensees who may sell liquor to customers for consumption on the premises during licensed hours. These include restaurants, airports, recreational park areas, houseboats, camps and caravan parks
    • Licensees that may sell liquor to customers for consumption on premises during licensed hours. These include casinos and theatres.
5.         Highlights
The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZimSEC) extended the registration period for November 2020 Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations to 2 October for pupils and schools that failed to do so due to different reasons related to the COVID-19-induced lockdown. No late registration fees will be charged to candidates and centres. This is the second time that ZimSEC has extended the registration process. ZimSEC also advised that marking of the June examination is starting before 18 September with results expected before the November examinations commence.According to the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Honourable Oppar Muchinguri-Kashiri, and the Chairperson of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the COVID-19 pandemic, as of the 13 September 2020, upgrades at 11 isolation centres had been completed. The isolation centres include:

  • COVID-19 isolation centres at Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital and Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare Metropolitan Province;
  • Victoria Falls Beat Aids in Matabeleland North Province;
  • Rujeko Clinic and Mashava Gaths Mine Hospital in Masvingo Province,
  • Beitbridge and Plumtree District Hospitals in Matabeleland South Province,
  • Chinengundu Clinic in Mashonaland West Province,
  • Chipadze Training Center and Guruve District Hospital in Mashonaland Central Province.

Government approved the resumption of domestic football after the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kirsty Coventry submitted a raft of proposals to the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA). Coventry added that the approach to the resumption was based on the bubble concept they want to borrow from the USA’s NBA.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema reported that the government has set aside ZWL600 million for disbursement to needy schools to improve sanitation and enable them to reopen safely without risking a spike in COVID-19 infections. This is part of a raft of measures, informed by World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, that authorities have put in place ahead of the reopening of public examination classes on September 28. The money is targeted for allocation to schools in all the provinces, with priority being given to those with less capacity to ensure the safety of schoolchildren and staff. This comes after private schools reopened on 14 September for the Cambridge examination classes with the generality of them adhering to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s mandatory Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) as part of the new normal. According to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) document, break and lunchtime have been staggered to prevent crowding by learners while sporting activities have also been banned. Schools are now required to keep records for teachers and pupils with underlying conditions without stigmatising them. A maximum of 35 pupils are allowed in a single classroom as learners and teachers will be required to maintain a physical or social distance of one metre in the school premises.

Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) Secretary-General Aaron Musara warned the government against fully relaxing COVID-19 regulations as positive cases continue to rise. According to MR Musara, information relating to COVID-19 is distorted such that the figures the country is documenting in incorrect because hospitals are not functioning. Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) president Enock Dongo also added that the government is not doing proper things to fight the pandemic. He added that we can be able to fight COVID-19.

6.         Arbitrary Arrests
On 14 September, nine (9) students were arrested outside Harare Magistrate court after being charged with participating in a demonstration with intent to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry. Nancy Njenge, Donald Marevanhema, Talent Jinga, Arnold Mazonde, Mitchell Lieto, Zvikomborero Mumbirimi, Takudzwa Gwaze and John Ncobo were rounded-up by anti-riot police and driven away in the back of an open-truck.

Eight (8) members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) arrested MDC Alliance Member of Parliament Honourable Joana Mamombe at Borrowdale Halfway House Hospital where was receiving treatment. This came after a warrant of arrest was issued against her for failure to appear in court notwithstanding representations by her lawyers that she was in the hospital. Prosecutor Mr Michael Reza argued before Harare magistrate, Mrs Bianca Makwande that the State has video evidence, which suggests that Mamombe, is not suffering from anxiety disorder as she was captured on CCTV shopping in Harare’s city centre on the day she is alleged to have been hospitalised. Prosecutors tried to have the court find Mamombe in default, with the consequence that her bail would be revoked. Their key piece of evidence was the video from September 4 which they argued proved that Mamombe was not ill. Magistrate Makwande said she was satisfied that Mamombe was in hospital as she blocked the video from being played.  She cancelled the warrant of arrest and remanded Mamombe out of custody to September 22 when the trial is expected to start.  Mamombe was returned to hospital following the court appearance.

7.         Harassment/ threat and intimidation
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Peter Mutasa and the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) President Obert Masaraure reported continuous harassment by suspected State security agents with relation to the July 31 protest. The duo reported increased surveillance and harassment despite being recently cleared of any charges by the police. The duo also reported that suspicious men driving unmarked vehicles have continuously visited their homes.

8.         Summary of Violations
The table below summarises COVID-19 related human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 18 September 2020.

Nature of Violation Number of Victims Location
Assaults and Torture including dog bites 280 Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare, Marondera, Beitbridge, Domboshava, Wengezi , Binga, Mt Darwin
Attack on journalists 20 Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Beitbridge, Bulawayo
Arbitrary Arrests 538 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, Chiredzi
Abductions 12 Chitungwiza, Bulawayo, Harare, Gweru, Hopley
Gunshots 2 Chitungwiza, Bulawayo
Extra-judicial Killing 1 Hurungwe
Raids 8 Chitungwiza, Bulawayo, Harare, Mkoba Gweru
Displacement 57 Banket, Harare
Harassment, threat, intimidation 2 Harare
9.   Court Update
       9.1. Continued detention of arrested persons in the time of COVID-19
On 15 September 2020, Justice Erica Ndewere of the Harare High Court reserved her judgment on the appeal filed by  Mr Job Sikhala, the member of parliament for the Zengeza West Constituency.  The Judge stated that he would advise the parties when the judgment in the bail appeal will be handed down.        9.2       Restrictions on fundamental freedoms
On 14 September the Harare Magistrates Court granted bail in the sum of Z$2000 and ordered Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) president Takudzwa Ngadziore to observe 100metres distance from Impala Car Rental.  Mr Ngadziore was arrested for taking part in a protest at Impala Car Rentals offices in Harare demanding answers to the role the company played in the abduction of student Tawanda Muchehiwa.

On 15 September 2020, nine students were granted bail in the sum of RTGS$2000 each being arrested and spending the night in police cells on charges of participating in a gathering with intent to cause public violence. The students were arrested while protesting at the Harare Magistrates Court and demanding the release of  Takudzwa Ngadziore.

Meanwhile, Justice Evangelista Kabasa of the Bulawayo High Court ordered Impala Car Rental to hand over all documentation and information relating to the hire of a motor vehicle implicated in the abduction of Tawanda Muchehiwa.  The information to be surrendered is from 26 July 2020 to 6 August 2020.

10. Conclusion
The Forum notes with concern the continued restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly and protest by the Zimbabwe Republic Police.   The Forum, therefore, urges the government to note that the right to peaceful assembly and protest is guaranteed under the Constitution of Zimbabwe 2013, and that Zimbabwe is a democratic society where citizens should be allowed to exercise these rights in line with public health guidelines.

The Forum further condemns the continued persecution of Honourable Joana Mamombe and urges prosecution and the police to desist from further traumatising her. The Forum also notes the further opening up of the economy which comes almost six months since the national lockdown was put into place. While this is a welcome development the Forum urges members of the public to continue to be cautious and adhere to the COVID-19 safety measures to curb the rise in cases of infections.

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