The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has urged government to urgently act on the fate of people living on the streets and currently affected by the 21 day lock down in the wake of the coronavirus.
Zimbabwe is now on day eight of the 21 set aside by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in an effort to reduce and control the spread of COVID-19 which has claimed more than 60 000 people worldwide and infecting more than a million others.
However, the government has yet to address the plight of homeless people who are a significant part of the population, which needs to be considered as the country attempts to deal with Covid19.
In its latest report dubbed “Their Voices Matter” ZimRights say homeless people need protection , especially from law enforcement agencies who have been brutalizing citizens under the guise of enforcing the lock down.
“While other countries like South Africa have taken into consideration their homeless people by at least giving them some shelter in a stadium, there have been reports that the Zimbabwe Republic Police have instead, brutalized and arrested people living in the streets, again further exposing them to the contraction or transmission of Covid19,” reads part of the report.
It further stated that what is more worrying is that there has not been any policy pronunciation by government, on what it would do to assist the homeless, who are a critical and unique population.
“Instead, government has announced a yet to be disbursed one-size-for-all package for ‘vulnerable households,” ZimRights said.
The report further stated that the government needs to abide by its mandate as per the constitution in as far as provision of shelter is concerned.
“The government of Zimbabwe must be reminded that according to the Constitution Section 28, the state and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must take reasonable legislative and other measure to enable every person to have access to adequate shelter.
“The African Commission on Human and People’s rights has already raised its concerns that the disease will have distressing consequences on people at risk including, among others, older people, homeless and people living in inadequate housing such as informal settlements, refugees and people with weak immune systems due to underlying health conditions,” the report alludes.
This is in conformity to Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which has a provision that everyone has a right to housing.
COVID-19 has had a huge negative impact on the economy and economists predict that if the pandemic is not stopped by August 2020, the world will plunge into a recession much worse than 1929.
This catastrophe plunging the industrialized world into darkness will do more damage for fragile economies in Africa.
With 2million Chinese people living in Africa, the bridge for the pandemic to find its way to the continent and to Zimbabwe at high speed is set. In Zimbabwe, the health care system is already in a sorry state.
With the high levels of unemployment, and the general economic meltdown the country has experienced, Zimbabweans generally live in extreme poverty and their level of deprivation means they are unable to access basic goods and services that are considered necessary to an acceptable standard of living, according to the World Bank Standards hence the pandemic has hit heavily on families.