Zimbabwe: Red Flag Over Lockdown Induced Challenges in the Country

1 June 2020

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has raised alarm over the manner in which some parts of the country are experiencing the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

In a weekly report on the lockdown ZPP says five districts namely Binga, Chiredzi, Matobo, Mutasa and Mutoko have been facing varying challenges which include lack of information and food insecurity.

"Information on the outbreak was broadcasted on television, social media and the radio. WhatsApp platforms were reported to be the major vehicle for information distribution. The COVID 19 information received was on mitigation and hygiene measures to stop the spread of the virus; however, respondents expressed a lack of understanding on the daily figures published by the Ministry of Health and Child Care in the sitrep updates.

"Some communities, particularly Binga Ward 9 cited challenges with radio stations infomercials being broadcasted primarily in English, Ndebele and Shona, excluding Tonga. The same complaints were recorded in Chilonga in Chiredzi district and Mwenezi district. Poor telecommunications and radio infrastructure remains a problem in peripheral border areas such as Binga Ward 9 and this has excluded these communities from accessing information" read the report.

ZPP highlighted that food shortages remain high in many districts and parallel markets were predominant.

"Food insecurity remains high in many districts and communities. Mealie-meal was reportedly available predominantly on the parallel market; however at exorbitant prices of between ZWL 200 -250 for 10kgs or USD5-6, as in the case of Siansundu in Binga District. In the majority of surveyed districts, respondents stated that there is inadequate food in their households to last them a week, with the exception of Mwenezi Ward 15 which had received aid distribution"

The lobby group called on the Government and local authorities to uphold the constitution and ensure that food aid is distributed in a non-partisan manner.

"Government and local authorities are obligated to provide all citizens with clean and potable water as stipulated in Section 77 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Government and local authorities should ensure that food aid is distributed in a non-partisan and fair manner. State Security forces should desist from using excessive force on unarmed civilians while enforcing the lockdown." said ZPP

With most citizens informally employed, food insecurity remain a challenge across the country. The pandemic has brought untold suffering in communities.

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