Wednesday 10 June 2020 marked day 73 of the national lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and has been in place since 30 March 2020. The Ministry of Health and Child Care reported an increase in the number of confirmed cases increased to three hundred and twenty (320). The number of cumulative tests done stood at fifty-five thousand seven hundred and nine (55 709). Of these, fifty-five thousand three hundred and eighty-nine (55 389) were negative. The number of recoveries increased to forty-nine (49) and the death toll remains at four (4).
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 The Herald and Bulawayo24 have also been incorporated into this report.
3.0 Emerging issues 3.1 General Updates
MDC Alliance legislator Honourable Caston Matewu donated food aid to one hundred and twenty (120) vulnerable families in Marondera Central. The food aid consisted of mealie meal and cooking oil. In a related matter, ZANU PF donated food aid to eleven (11) ZANU PF supporters in Mbizo at Dambudzo Primary School in Kwekwe. This comes at the backdrop of increasing prices of food as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and the deteriorating economy.
In Glen View in Harare, it was reported that scores of vendors going about their normal routines were observed at pavements at Tichagarika Shopping Centre and Churu shops. Similar reports of vendors resuming operations despite the national lockdown have also been reported in Mbare, Mabvuku, Epworth in Harare and Chitungwiza. In Mbare, community members continued to defy the lockdown as witnessed by a football match that was hosted between 11am to 1pm at the football pitch near Mwamuka Service Station. Community members were observed cheering the football match from the side lines. Football matches remain banned during level 2 of the national lockdown.
In Bulawayo, it was reported that vendors under the ambit of the Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) have received NetOne sim cards which will be used to disburse the COVID-19 cushioning funds from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Each individual is set to receive ZWL200.In Makonde and Zvimba, it was reported that youths received grants from the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation. It was reported that the grants ranged between ZWL3000 to ZWL5000 which was shared through One Money Wallets. Beneficiaries of the grants were drawn from sub-sectors of the economy such as agriculture, mining, arts, retail business, sports and manufacturing. However, the actual number of beneficiaries could not be ascertained.
Amidst the level 2 national lockdown which restricts gatherings of more than fifty (50), an organisation called Chapter 2 Movement has called for a social protest against corruption and economic decay in Zimbabwe. The protest is scheduled for 12 June 2020.
3.2 Transport Update
According to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana, long distance truck drivers are now restricted to only stop at 21 designated truck stops in Zimbabwe except just to use ablution facilities. The following are some of the designated truck stops;
6-Harris Service Station
11-Halfway Service Station
Truck drivers are also not permitted to carry passengers. This directive came as a reaction to the realisation that long-distance trucks were now at high risk of spreading the coronavirus as they were now the only mode of intercity transport following the banning of private commuter omnibuses and buses other than those operating under the ZUPCO franchise and current restrictions on intercity travel.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe United Passengers Company (ZUPCO) which is currently the sole transport provider under the level 2 national lockdown has hiked travel fares by 100%. The new fares have increased ZUPCO buses from ZWL2 to ZWL4 per trip and ZUPCO commuter omnibuses from ZWL4 to ZWL8 per trip. The increase in fares has increased the burden on the commuting public most of whom are still not economically stable following the protracted national lockdown.
3.3 Mandatory Quarantine Update
Reports from media houses in Bulawayo indicate that eleven (11) people escaped from Bulawayo’s quarantine centres bringing the total number of escaped returnees nationally to one hundred and sixty-nine (169). Give that the majority of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe are returnees, there is need for more secure quarantine centres.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana reported that two hundred and eighty-five (285) returnees were released from mandatory quarantine facilities. The returnees who were released from mandatory quarantine include ninety-five (95) from Harare Polytechnic, thirty-seven (37) from Queen Elizabeth, eighty (80) from Prince Edward and seventy-three (73) from Roosevelt Quarantine Centres. Returnees who tested positive from all the quarantine facilities have since been taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital Isolation Centre, Wilkins Hospital and Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital. In Midlands, forty-five (45) returnees quarantined at Dadaya Training Centre were released after their results showed that they were negative of COVID-19.
In Ruwa, it was reported that the Rapid Response Team responded to a case of a man who absconded from a quarantine centre in Beitbridge. The returnee allegedly joined his family at Madyise Farm in Ruwa on 6 June.
3.4 Reopening of schools update
Through a statement, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Schools reported that schools will only be permitted to re-open after meeting strict guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Ministry revealed that the following conditions should be met:
Provision of the best WASH infrastructure especially water sources,
Increasing air flow and ventilation in all buildings,
Provision of PPE for learners and staff,
Standard operational procedures for managing COVID-19,
Competence based infection prevention and control training for school health coordinators, facilitated by the Ministry of Health,
Strengthening of school leadership, supervision, monitoring and quality assurance systems for strict compliance with COVID-19 measures,
Curriculum activities that empower learners on proper hygiene practise to protect self and others against COVID-19
Disinfecting and cleaning of school buildings, particularly water and sanitary facilities and frequently touched surfaces and
Continued stakeholder engagement
In addition, schools must have clean water sources, hand washing detergents, hand washing stations, sanitizers, masks, gloves, infra-red thermometers, fumigation services, special gowns for health coordinators, mobile classes and individual desks and chairs to facilitate social distancing.
Meanwhile, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union in Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) advised that they are going to approach the courts to interdict the government from opening schools. According to the statement issued by ARTUZ, on opening schools, 136 000 teachers and almost five million learners will be admitted in schools. The teacher complement will have to be boosted by 90 000 teachers to achieve social distancing in classrooms. There is, therefore, need to test all the teachers and learners to screen them of COVID-19.
3.5 Abduction Update
Honourable Joana Mamombe together with MDC Alliance youth leaders Cecilia Chimbiri, and Netsai Marova appeared at Harare Magistrates Court on 9 June 2020 for the hearing of the state’s application to vary their bail conditions so that they surrender their passports. Magistrate Muchuchuti ordered the trio to surrender their passports to the court to allay the State’s fears that the trio could escape from Zimbabwe. However, the trio was arrested on 10 June 2020 on charges relating to an alleged fake abduction report which falls under Section 180 of the Criminal Code relating to falsifying a police report.
4.0 Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 10 June 2020.
6.0 Court Update
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Parliament of Zimbabwe announced that the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs will hold public hearings on the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No.2 Bill (H.B 23, 2019) from the 15th to the 19th of June 2020. Given that only fifty (50) people are authorised to congregate under level 2 of the national lockdown at any given time, the maximum number of people who will participate in the eighteen (18) public hearings is only nine hundred (900). As a result, the Chitungwiza and Mayame Rural Residents Association and Ms Alice Kuvheya represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) filed an urgent chamber application at High Court seeking an order to interdict Parliament from conducting these public hearings until the national lockdown is lifted.
The Forum is concerned with the growing number of COVID-19 confirmed cases at the backdrop of the reopening of schools and tertiary institutions. The Forum urges the government to adequately prepare for the reopening of schools to avoid the spread of the pandemic within academic institutions.
The Forum calls on Parliament to postpone the Constitutional Amendment Bill public hearings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic which might deter citizens from participating in the public hearings.