June 2021 recorded the height of gross and heartless Human Rights violations instituted by the Government of Zimbabwe under the difficult global pandemic – COVID-19. Spate of demolitions of homes and means of livelihood for the poor Zimbabwean, were witnessed in Harare’s high density suburbs and Chitungwiza. The impact of COVID-19 and the restrictive conditions of its management, forced businesses to operate at less than capacity, with most laying off employees and shutting down.
The past five (5) editions of the COVID-19 Accountability Tracker confirmed fears that Zimbabweans were now dependent on informal trade to survive a day. With no meaningful contribution from the government to cushion persons with disabilities, women, children and other vulnerable groups, the wave of demolitions further worsened the livelihood of the poor Zimbabwean. The situation was aggravated by an abrupt pronouncement of a tighter lockdown which was not complemented by a government relief facility for the affected persons. The reporting month June 2021 recorded low activity on the vaccination programme with many reports citing non availability of the dose at the vaccination centres. The sixth edition of the COVID-19 Accountability Tracker covers related developments in the month June 2021, focusing on documented human rights violations and prejudices ensuing from the COVID-19 management measures instituted by the Government of Zimbabwe.
Summary Findings & Recommendations.
Vending businesses and small enterprises were significantly aected by the inter-city ban as they failed to travel to restock and sell. There is no provision in the Statutory Instrument 189 of 2021 to cater for small traders as an essential service.
People rely on social media to inform their decisions on whether to get vaccinated or not. Alarming conspiracies flooding the social media outweigh factual and verified information on COVID-19.
People are unaware of any government relief support programme for persons with disabilities, women, children and other vulnerable groups. There is a strong feeling that the government is not doing enough to cushion its citizens from the impact of COVID-19 and trade restrictions.
Strengthen advocacy around the formulation of the COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment Statutory Instruments and their progressive amendments to incorporate measures to protect small business enterprises and informal traders in Zimbabwe.
Social media being the major source of information for Zimbabweans, it is imperative that the government comes up with more relevant and innovative ways of disseminating information, to curb the sometimes outrageous conspiracy theories that discourage people from making informed and factual decisions. Government must engage influencers with integrity for public engagements, consultations and constructive conversations around management of the pandemic in Zimbabwe. Government must adopt a public participatory approach.
Instead of focussing on heavy forms of punishment for COVID-19 restriction violators, the government should instead mobilise resources to cushion its citizens such that they do not put themselves and others at risk by continuing to flout the regulations. If well cushioned, citizens will also value their health and that of others and the pandemic may be easier to contain. Government must implement a direct beneficiary support mechanism to ensure that the facility reaches the intended beneficiaries. Government must engage mobile money wallet services and relief aid organisations to design a sustainable facility for the persons with disabilities, women, children and other vulnerable groups.