BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
THE Media Institute for Southern Africa (Misa)-Zimbabwe chapter has dragged Vice-President and Health and Child Care minister Constantino Chiwenga to court seeking to be granted an order compelling the government to disseminate information on the testing, isolation and treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa was also cited in the court papers that were filed by Misa-Zimbabwe yesterday.
Through their lawyer Rudo Magundani of Scanlen and Holderness, Misa-Zimbabwe said the information and coverage being disseminated on the current public health situation in the country was incomplete, uninformative, and inadequate.
It contended that the current information dissemination had failed to take into consideration the requirements of all citizens in Zimbabwe.
Misa-Zimbabwe also argued that the quality of information being disseminated was poor, and was short-changing the citizens as no information had been disseminated on the new strain of COVID-19.
It said government also failed to release information from the statistics emanating from private health facilities.
“There is no information advising the public of the new variant of COVID-19, its pathology and whether such a variant has been detected in Zimbabwe.
“In fact, there is no information as to whether the first respondent is even testing for the new COVID-19 variant.
“The amount of cross-border interaction with South Africa makes Zimbabwe particularly susceptible to exposure” the media lobby group said.
It added: “Critically, there is no information as to the statistics emanating from private healthcare providers such as the number of tests that have been conducted by such facilities, the attendant results, various aggregations of those results around gender age and location.
“All this information is critical in regards to public awareness and well as determining the true state of the public health emergency.”
Misa-Zimbabwe stated that government failed to provide information on the nature and quantity of equipment available in the designated public and private institutions in Zimbabwe to deal with the resurgent pandemic.
“We are in a second and more dangerous wave of the virus and it is important that the public is made aware of the state of preparedness,” it said.
This application comes on the backdrop of an earlier one filed by the organisation in April 2020 wherein the High Court ordered the two ministries to publish and disseminate on all available platforms, COVID-19 daily updates in all the official languages.