The People’s Health Movement notes with deep concern the political, economic and social crisis engulfing Zimbabwe whose post-Mugabe leadership have abandoned any pretence of democracy.
Hopes for a renewal of the economy based on respect for human rights have been dashed by increasing intolerance of criticism and closing down of civil society space in the country.
Health has suffered immensely under the repression of Mnangagwa’s government. The public health care system is teetering on the brink of collapse with shortages of basic drugs and equipment, overburdened and underpaid staff, widespread corruption and a failure by the government to address health workers’ incapacitation resorting to force. A number of senior managers at state hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo were dismissed and nurses arrested in July, and industrial action is threatening the health care system. The basic essentials for healthy living – nutritious food, clean water and adequate sanitation – remain out of the reach of millions of Zimbabwe’s people. And the COVID-19 crisis threatens to spiral given lack of PPE for health workers and a growing number of infections flooding Zimbabwe’s creaking health system.
Many Zimbabweans rely on the informal economy to survive – with the country in lockdown, the informal economy has been immobilised and hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are facing worsening poverty, lack of food security and starvation. Yet the government-imposed lockdown and heavy-handed actions of the police have taken away the people’s right to protest against the humanitarian disaster. We strongly condemn this heavy-handed action among innocent citizens.
We support calls by Zimbabwean civil society:
- for urgent attention to fix the health sector and prevent unnecessary deaths and suffering.
- To not use the Covid-19 lockdown to oppress and terrorise the people of Zimbabwe, and to allow peaceful protest carried out safely (social distancing, masks, etc) as this provides a way for people to inform about the humanitarian crisis and communicate their needs
This can only happen when democracy is fully respected and practised and where law and order are used to defend people’s human rights, not as a tool to repress protests against corruption.
We furthermore call on the South African government, African Union and the Southern African Development Community to condemn the actions and the ongoing human rights violations of the Zimbabwe government; and put pressure on the government to urgently fix the health sector.
Our hearts go out to the Zimbabwean people and we express our full solidarity with your efforts to demand justice, equity and restore the rule of law to a force for peace, and not a force for injustice.
Issued by the People’s Health Movement South Africa
06 August 2020