Written by Fadzai Lydia
Midzi- (Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association)
Just like the rest of the
world, Zimbabwe is grappling with the challenge of containing coronavirus. So far 7 cases have been confirmed as at 30
March 2020. This is only a tip of an iceberg. With cases on the rise, there is
need for Covid-19 preparedness measures to flatten the curve. Zimbabwe is
endowed with vast mineral wealth deposits; Diamonds are one of the key
strategic minerals expected to contribute to economic recovery. Therefore, the
mineral wealth that the country poses should assist in responding to the
Health should not depend
on wealth. But far too often it does, and it has a huge impact. The state pf
preparedness of diamond mining affected communities’ rests in the diamond
wealth they possess. It is important for Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company
(ZCDC) to lead in COVID-19 preparedness in the Manicaland area. Diamonds are
the only hope the communities have in surviving this health pandemic.
The communities are
already vulnerable in terms of remoteness and poverty which makes most of them
unable to afford COVID-19 prevention measures. The remoteness of these
communities limits their knowledge on how to protect themselves from the health
pandemic. Efforts have been made by the government in raising awareness through
television, radio, newspapers, social media though there remains a gap in
reaching the marginalised communities in remote areas such as Chiadzwa, Marange
The vulnerability of
these communities to this virus is unspeakable and it is important to take a
gear up towards preparedness, this will bring out the connection between
diamond wealth and health amidst this health disaster. Manicaland has not fully recovered from
Cyclone Idai disaster, therefore it is important to make sure that this time
around communities are well prepared to manage the COVID-19 public health
disaster. To ensure COVID-19 preparedness, community participation and
involvement is vital. One of the local women in Chiadzwa expressed the
community fears on the recent 21-day lockdown and how it will affect their
livelihoods when most people live from hand to mouth.
“We are concerned about our vegetable farming business;
these are perishables which are currently facing demand risks. We sell fresh (vegetables
and tomatoes) there is no market since people are indoors, selling door to door
is difficult and puts us at risk.”
These women were selling
their produce to ZCDC and they are concerned on how they will move forward
given the recent developments on COVID-19 prevention. A Chimanimaniresident
indicated their fear for people living in remote areas being affected the most
if the virus hits because they lack preparedness and they do not have clinics. This
is an area that has not fully recovered from Cyclone Idai disaster effects.
“Our local health workers
have no transportation to raise awareness in the remote areas due to the lock
down and their capacity to handle COVID-19 cases is questionable.’’
Global wide, efforts are
being channelled towards stopping the spread of the virus and protecting people
it is imperative for ZCDC to take part in the global fight against the virus.
ZCDC should take COVID-19 preparedness as one of its Corporate Social
Responsibility Initiative and join the global movement against COVID-19. With
the diamond sector being toxic in disappointments due to unmet expectations, it
is time for ZCDC to iron out conflicts by meeting communities at their time of need.
This is also an opportunity for the company to prove that its CSR initiatives
are needs driven and sought to solve real community problems.
Through this initiative
the company can help to prove that its diamonds are contributing to local
sustainable development in communities were resources are extracted. It is a time to prove that diamonds are working
for people and that the 12 billion mining strategy “the minerals of hope” brings
back hope to the people by helping to solve the public health pandemic and literally
save lives. Community health is at stake and diamonds can provide a source of
hope and redemption in this public health pandemic.
Law Association (ZELA) proposes that ZCDC takes lead in COVID-19 prevention in
Manicaland to enhance and reciprocate government efforts to stop the spread of
the virus through the following.
Conduct massive radio
programmes with the local radio station covering.
- Awareness on COVID-19 prevention measures
such as washing of hands using soap and hand sanitisers. This will bring
out the importance of personal protective measures as advised by the World Health
- Discussions on the recent developments
made by the government on social distancing the 21-day lock down and SI 2020-077 Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention,
Containment and Treatment). This can be done with community groups such as
Health Centre Committees, Advocacy groups and Community based Organisations.
- Encourage community participation during
the awareness programmes. This will enhance people’s knowledge on COVID-19
prevention. The radio programmes will also be critical in harvesting
information on what is happening on the ground in terms of prevention, bringing
out the challenges and opportunities that can be leveraged to improve community
preparedness on the pandemic.
- Prepare Manicaland COVID-19 state of
preparedness reports covering issues on the ground shared by communities during
the radio programmes.
- Provide regular updates on COVID-19
through social media platforms such as twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and bulk
- Conduct special radio sessions where
Youths, Women and People with disabilities are given a platform to discuss on COVID-19
prevention and the challenges they face in preventing the spread of the virus.
This will encourage participation of the marginalised groups during the
- ZCDC can assist Mutare General Hospital’s
preparedness including setting up response mechanisms and handling of COVID-19
patients through provision of personal protective equipment for the hospital’ staff
- There has been a huge concern over the
shortage of ventilators and test kits in the country, therefore it would be
imperative for ZCDC to provide ventilators and test kits for the hospital.
- The diamond company must ensure that
services such as water, electricity are available at the hospital. This will be
a good move in making sure that Mutare is well equipped to handle the pandemic
and not depend on Wilkins hospital in Harare.
- Provide COVID-19 test kits to local
community clinics and assist local COVID-19 trained health workers with transport
so that they can travel to remote areas and raise awareness on the COVID-19.
- Provide food hampers to the most
vulnerable families such as orphans, child headed households and poverty
is willing to take part and support ZCDC on this initiative through
spearheading radio programmes and documenting ZCDC’s work on COVID-19