Court orders Chiwenga to disseminate detailed info on Covid-19

High Court Judge Justice Mary Dube has granted an order compelling the Ministry of Health and Child Care and its counterpart, the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services to disseminate comprehensive information on the Covid-19 pandemic.

The order was granted on January 21, 2021 after an urgent application filed by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe raising concerns that the current information and reportage disseminated on the Covid-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe was incomplete, uninformative and inadequate.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care stands accused of ‘hiding’ crucial Covid-19 information and failing to fully inform citizens on the actual status of the pandemic coupled by current concerns on lack of transparency on government’s plans to secure the coronavirus vaccine.

In the application, MISA Zimbabwe cited Minister of Health and Child Care, Constantino Chiwenga, also the country’s vice president and Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, as first and second respondents respectively.

A press note from MISA Zimbabwe, said Justice Dube in her judgement ordered the respondents to publish and disseminate on all available platforms, in all official languages, information on the occurrence and prevalence of the Covid-19 virus strain 501Y.V2 in Zimbabwe on a regular basis.

“If found to be existent in Zimbabwe, the grant ordered respondents to communicate the pathology of the Covid-19 virus strain 501Y.V2, as well as measures to be taken by the public in respect of this strain,” said the press statement.

The grant also said the ministries of health and information must communicate Covid-19 statistics per each district in Zimbabwe, which statistics should also include gender desegregated data.

“The respondents must communicate Covid-19 statistics in relation to immigration and cross border travel and such reports should include the number of returning residents received and their Covid-19 status. The Respondents must communicate additional information listing public and private testing and treatment centres, their capacity and current status of occupation or usage,” said the press statement.

The health minister and information minister were also ordered to communicate the type and quality of medical equipment, other personnel needed and any further procurements that have been made since the commencement of the current national lockdown.

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