Zimbabwe: 85 Percent Battling to Trust Govt Updates On COVID-19 - Zimrights

President Emmerson Mnangagwa (file photo).
21 April 2020

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association has urged government to be more forthcoming and stop treating information regarding COVID-19 like a security issue.

This follows the organisation's recent survey which revealed that up to 85 percent of citizens are struggling to believe the information coming from government concerning the pandemic.

"The result of the government gagging other actors like the city councils, as well as a clampdown on journalists has been information starvation. In this vacuum of information, fake news is thriving, creating a dangerous situation. ZimRights members now depending on social media for updates on COVID 19 say the threat of fake news is caused by lack of information as people end up consuming whatever information they get," reads a statement by ZimRights.

"Two people died during the second week of the lock-down under circumstances that exposed the government's poor management of information. In an update released on 6 April 2020, the government reported the second COVID 19 death, three days after the death. This raised the questions why the government had remained quiet for three days while the community feared that many people were exposed to COVID because the government was 'hiding' information.

"With these concerns being raised by the communities, ZimRights initiated a conversation on whether the people believe in what the government is telling them. 85% of the people who responded to the poll on social media said they did not trust the information from the government."

The civic group urged to come up with a crisis communications plan which puts together a communications team to handle information dissemination.

"The team must be inclusive of various stakeholders who are contributing to the fight against COVID 19 from various angles. This is to make sure that no stakeholders are left behind."

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