COVID-19 monitoring report – Day 47

Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report: 15 May 2020 – Day 47

Source: COVID-19 monitoring report – Day 47 – The Zimbabwean

1.0       Introduction
Friday 15 May marked two days before the expiry of the extended lockdown measures on 17 May 2020. By end of day, the government was yet to advise the nation on the next steps.The Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that one thousand and twenty-nine (1 029) tests were conducted. This increased the cumulative tests to twenty-five thousand four hundred and seventy-eight (25 478). Of these, twenty-five thousand four hundred and thirty-six (25 436) were negative. The number of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases increased to forty-two (42) while the recoveries remained at thirteen (13). Deaths remain at four (4). The sharp increase in positive COVID-19 cases from 34 to 42 between 13 to 15 May has raised anxiety in the nation particularly relating to the continuation of the lockdown post 17 May.2.0       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 Community Radio Harare have also been incorporated in this report.

3.0       Emerging issues 

              3.1       General atmosphere
In Bulilima, local authorities instructed vendors to demolish and remove their vending stalls at undesignated sites. It was reported that vendors have been given a 3-day notice, with up to 18 May to effect the instruction. This follows the nationwide demolition of vending stalls after the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development on 8 April directed local authorities to use the lockdown to “clean up and renovate small and medium enterprise and informal traders’ workspaces”. Vendors in Bulilima were advised that they will be allocated new vending stalls as soon as the national lockdown is lifted.

As part of the National Aids Council’s efforts to raise awareness of COVID-19, the institution conducted a COVID-19 awareness campaign in Goromonzi. The awareness raising came after residents from the area indicated that they had not received information relating to COVID-19 since most of them do not have electronic devices such as radios and televisions. Communities in Goromonzi also raised water challenges, as most community boreholes are no longer functional on account of inadequate maintenance.

In Chivi, it was reported that groups of youths were playing football at St Martin’s and Masunda schools. The football matches attracted fair crowds of spectators who were not observing social distancing. Health workers from the area conducted a COVID-19 awareness outreach at Chivi Rural hospital.

3.2       Food aid and donations
As food challenges continue to plague community members in Mangwe, reports from the area indicated that people have resorted to barter trade, mainly exchanging mopane worms for mealie meal and cooking oil. It was reported that 10kgs of mealie meal is bartered with 5kgs of mopane worms. Communities in Mangwe rely on selling mopane worms as a main source of livelihood. However, due to the lockdown, the communities were unable to sell them.

Community members in Pumula in Bulawayo and Chivi bemoan the government’s late disbursement of relief food aid for vulnerable groups which was announced in early April. Most people in Pumula have resorted to having one (1) meal a day.

In Bikita, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare conducted a verification exercise for beneficiaries of the COVID-19 relief food aid. The exercise was presided by the local councillor Decent Chikunya. It was also reported that most of the people were not wearing face masks during the verification process.

In Chegutu, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare distributed food aid at Waze Business Centre.

In Chivi Central, community members were gathered at Nyamakwe Irrigation Scheme where they were receiving wheat and fertilizer as part of the government-run command agriculture programme. Officers from the Operation Maguta in Chivi District, accompanied by army officers, were responsible for distribution of the inputs.

               3.3       Lockdown enforcement  
There was heavy deployment of State security agents in Chipinge in anticipation of a donation of medical equipment by the First Lady.  Due to the increased number of police patrols and checkpoints mounted in Chipinge, community members complained of harassment and intimidation, including those queuing to buy groceries at various shops.

In Bindura, it was also reported that police officers were harassing and intimidating community members who were not wearing face masks. In one incident, police officers forced four (4) youths to carry two (2) bricks each as punishment for not wearing face masks.

In Muzvezve in Kadoma, it was reported that police officers manning a checkpoint at Empress turnoff along the Harare-Bulawayo Road were turning back people without face masks, even though some of the police officers were also not wearing face masks or gloves. Motorists were required to carry only one (1) passenger, and vehicles with more than one passenger were turned back even if the passengers had exemption letters to travel.

3.4       Returnees and mandatory quarantine updates
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana reported that in Matebeleland North, one of the returning citizens Mxolisi Zondo evaded security at Mabhikwa quarantine centre and fled to his home at Shabula village. He was later located by police officers and brought back to the quarantine centre. This comes after two (2) people in Harare and Mashonaland East who recently returned from South Africa tested positive for COVID-19.

4.0       Assault
In Kadoma, it was reported that police officers assaulted two (2) people with baton sticks at Zaphalala shop for not wearing face masks. It is alleged that police officers picked the two from a group of people who were gathered at OK supermarket waiting for their turn to buy groceries. The police officers solicited a bribe from the two in exchange for them not being arrested, and the assault was after the individuals refused to pay the bribe.

5.0       Missing Persons Update
In Harare, MDC Alliance Harare West Member of Parliament Joana Mamombe and Youth Assembly leaders Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova who went missing on 13 May in a case of abduction,  were located dumped in Bindura. The three were recovered with various injuries consistent with aggravated assault and torture, and were checked into a medical facility in the company of lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, police officers, and officials from the party.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana issued a press statement in which it was indicated that the three went missing while police were looking for them in order to interview them for the “illegal demonstration in Warren Park” that they were engaged in. The statement did not mention that the trio had been arrested, as earlier reported in the Herald newspaper, in which the police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Themba Naythi was quoted confirming the arrest.

6.0       Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 15 May 2020.

Nature of Violation Number of Victims Location
Assault 240 Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare, Marondera, Beitbridge
Attack on Journalists 12 Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo
Arrests 324 Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mwenezi, Guruve, Hwange
Malicious Damage to Property 2 Harare, Chitungwiza
Missing persons/Abdutions 3 Harare
7.0       Court update
Harare High Court Judge Justice Sylvia Chirawu-Mugomba ordered Chitungwiza Municipality to immediately provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to its employees to protect them against the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. The order was granted following an application by the Chitungwiza Workers Union which approached the court on an urgent basis seeking this remedy.