MP, activist demand safety nets to cushion vulnerable people during #COVID-19 national lockdown

By Court Reporter

A LEGISLATOR and a human rights activist have hauled President
Emmerson Mnangagwa and some of his lieutenants to court seeking an
order compelling government to provide safety nets and subsidies to
vulnerable communities in Zimbabwe during the duration of the National
Lockdown.

In an application filed at High Court on Wednesday 8 April 2020,
Harare North constituency legislator Allan Norman Markham and Mfundo
Mlilo, a human rights activist, want the court to order President
Mnangagwa, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube,
Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo and Local Government,
Rural and Urban Development Minister July Moyo to enact some
regulations that support the limitation of movement of people by
providing subsidies in the form of food, cash handouts and water so as
to meet the objectives of Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020, Public
Heath, (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National
Lockdown) Order, 2020.

Markham and Mlilo, who are represented by Tendai Biti of Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights, said while it was just and equitable that
Health and Child Care Minister Moyo issued regulations that limit the
movement of people from their homes for 21 days as Statutory
Instrument 83 of 2020, Public Heath, (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment
and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order, 2020 has done, however
without provision of safety nets, the aims of Statutory Instrument 83
of 2020, Public Heath, (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and
Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order, 2020, are rendered less
effective and detrimental to the citizens’ right to life and health
care.

Restricting movement without providing for safety nets, Markham and
Mlilo argued, threatens the right to life and to health care to the
extent that such is an abdication by the state on its duty to protect
citizens in terms of the Constitution and international covenants and
instruments as well as customary international law, which places a
duty and responsibility on the state to protect its citizens from
pandemics.
Markham and Mlilo protested that government has failed to pass
regulations that provide distress relief and social protection
provisions to vulnerable communities, informal traders, unemployed
persons to support the implementation of Statutory Instrument 83 of
2020, Public Heath, (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment)
(National Lockdown) Order, 2020, hence the High Court should compel it
to prescribe through a Statutory Instrument, the provision by
government of food, monetary handouts and provision of water.

The legislator and activist want government to be ordered to pass
regulations and enforce such regulations that provide for emergency
relief in the form of door to door food handouts, cash handouts, water
deliveries and other related provisions that sustain the livelihoods
of affected communities during the National Lockdown period.