The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has asked the government of Zimbabwe to come clean on Covid-19 by disseminating correct information on the country’s response. In a letter addressed to the Minister of Health and Child Care, ZLHR stated that only Harare and Bulawayo have testing centres and that information provided by the government is insufficient.
The Executive Director of ZLHR, Roselyn Hanzi, asked the minister to ‘provide further information on issues relating to the following: testing centres, indicators for testing, reaction time, inconclusive [results].’ She stated that testing facilities are not readily available. She said that only Bulawayo and Harare have quarantine facilities and that those facilities are inadequate.
‘There is a need to establish satellite testing centres throughout the country. Currently, testing is restricted to Harare and Bulawayo and this poses challenges for those who may need to be tested but live outside or far away from these cities. Ideally, testing facilities should be available across all 60 district hospitals. At the very least, due to resource constraints, testing kits should be available at all the 10 provincial hospitals’, she said.
Other civil society organisations have also stated that the government is not doing enough to provide reliable information, amid suspicions that government is not doing as much as it reports to contain the spread of the virus. The Zimbabwe Coalition of Debt and Development noted that there is general mistrust of government in the country, emanating from misinformation on public media regarding the actual state of preparedness and the management of public resources allocated to fight Covid-19, including pledges and donations.
The Chief Executive Officer of Habakkuk Trust, Dumisani Nkomo, said, ‘The information should be availed in local languages through easily accessible communication media such as WhatsApp, posters, banners and hailers. This will be instrumental in averting the implosion of a nationwide coronavirus catastrophe just like in Italy and other countries’.
The Executive Director of Community Working Group on Health, Itai Rusike, also noted that there is a need for a continuous, reliable updates if panic is to be avoided. He added that fake news and misinformation on social media were causing panic, fear and the stigmatisation of people suspected to have the disease and hence the need for correct information from the authorities.
Photo source: Muffinn