ZimRights Newsletter Issue 2
COVID 19: Embracing our Responsibility
Message to Friends and Partners
Dear Friends and Partners
Today, we are facing a global public health crisis of unprecedented proportions. Only time will tell the devastating toll that COVID-19 will exact on our communities. The speed at which the virus is spreading leaves many of our communities in despair. At the time of writing this message, 1 353 361 people have been infected by the virus and there are 79 245 deaths globally. The world economy has lost over 3,2 trillion in the first 3 months of the pandemic.
Here in Zimbabwe, the government says there are only 11 cases and 2 deaths. However, in a survey currently being run by ZimRights online, 85% of the respondents do not trust this information. The reasons for this mistrust are varied. Reports from reliable medical sources suggest that there is a possibility of official cover up of information related to COVID 19. On 8 April 2020, TellZim reported that one person died at Chiredzi District Hospital after being admitted with respiratory problems. The police immediately arrested the journalist who broke the story. The Zim Morning Post reports that there are other cases in Gwanda where people are said to have died from ‘pneumonia’ which raises the concern of misdiagnosis of what could possibly be COVID 19. The government has however defended its preparedness to deal with COVID 19.
As Zimbabweans deal with this crisis, perhaps the worst of the tragedies is a clear lack of the much needed leadership in this time of crisis. It is in these times that non-state actors are called to step in the gap and assist. We acknowledge the efforts of the private sector and development partners who have stepped forward to assist Zimbabwe in dealing with the crisis. The 21-day lockdown announced by the government has brought with it an increase in human rights violations as the police lead in breaking the social distancing guidelines by beating and bundling people in trucks and beating civilians. Thanks to our colleagues at ZLHR who are stepping forward to assist the victims of police brutality.