COVID 19: Embracing our Responsibility
8 APRIL 2020
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.

For our part as ZimRights, we have responded by first safeguarding the welfare of our team but still continuing to serve our members and the greater public. We have successfully managed to arrange for remote operations for all members of staff. In doing so, we have beefed up our digital presence with new tools to keep us connected to the communities we serve. Our new website www.zimrights.org.zw is still going through changes but is now accessible. You can follow all our campaigns online and download resources for the important human rights work. In addition to our facebook and twitter pages, we have now introduced ZimRights Audible, the audio channel that allows us to bring community voices into our advocacy and programming. To this digital set, we have also added the Linked In page where we share opportunities for skills investment in ZimRights work. We round this up with our new Weekly ZimRights News where we package the rigours of our weekly labours for you, so that you get it all in one place. At the end of this message you will find all the contact details for our services in Harare and in other regions.

To assist in raising awareness on the deadly virus, we have integrated in our digital tools, messages to encourage our communities to exercise social distancing and the hygiene practices to combat the spread of COVID 19. With generous support from development partners, our regional centres will be disseminating hygiene packs and WHO approved awareness messages. This will be done without violating the lockdown regulations in partnership with colleagues in the essential services sectors. As a registered welfare organisation, ZimRights is not only allowed but is called to respond in helping the needy in times like these. If you wish to support this cause, please email us on the details below or call our hotlines.

At the invitation of the Movement for Catholic Students, we have facilitated a Virtual discussion on Human Rights in the Fight Against COVID 19. The Facebook Live presentation is accessible on this link while the written paper can be downloaded from the ZimRights Blog. 

In addition to these initiatives, we are monitoring the situation of human rights in the country, focusing on community interaction with the COVID 19 disaster as well as community interface with COVID 19 measures being implemented by the government. We believe that human rights are not an attachment to the fight against COVID 19, but are at the heart of it because this is a fight to protect the right to life and all the other rights that life gives us. As we confront COVID 19, we must refuse the myth that we have to choose. We can fight COVID 19 and still protect our dignity, the weak and the vulnerable. This is why we have partnered with ZimRights members across the country in documenting their experiences of the lock-down, interaction with health systems as well as their interaction with law-enforcement agents. These experiences are capture in the report, “Their Voices Matter: Community Experiences of the COVID 19 Measures in Zimbabwe.” You can find this report under publications on our website. This week we are continuing this journey with communities and we will share with you. Feel free to follow our social media platforms so that you do not miss anything.  

Finally, this is war that all of us have to fight. But others will fight by putting their lives on the line. For them who cannot afford to stay at home, we urge everyone else to please stay at home. When we do so, we play our part in stopping the virus. Similarly, we urge businesses not to put their employees in the line of danger for non-essential services. Here at ZimRights, we are paying tribute to our brothers and sisters at the frontlines of the fight against COVID 19. See this campaign here and share with friends and colleagues who are interested in joining us in paying this tribute.

As we gaze upon the road ahead, we are embracing our responsibility for the most vulnerable and for all victims of human rights violations in Zimbabwe. We do this with immense gratitude for the support that you give to us.

Thank you. Stay safe.

Contact Persons

National Director
0782 767 569

Finance & Admin Manager
0772 496 312

Programmes Coordinator
0773 531 847
Membership Officer
0714 724 133

Human Rights Monitoring
0776 927 242

Masvingo Office
0772 318 047

Bulawayo Office
0778 683 376

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association
Phone +263 242 707 278 | Hotline +263 734 053 955