BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
THE High Court has ordered the government to widely disseminate comprehensive and adequate information on COVID-19 testing, isolation and treatment at public and private institutions.
This follows an urgent application filed by the Media Institute for Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe, through its lawyer Rudo Magundani of Scanlen and Holderness, arguing that the information being disseminated was uninformative and inadequate.
High Court judge Justice Mary Dube also ruled that in addition, the Information and Publicity and Health and Child Care ministries should communicate COVID-19 statistics in relation to immigration and cross-border travel, adding that such reports should include the number of returning residents and their COVID-19 statuses.
Magundani had argued that the information being currently disseminated in the country was incomplete, uninformative, and inadequate.
Misa Zimbabwe contended that the information being disseminated currently failed to take into consideration the requirements of all Zimbabweans, and that its quality was poor and was short-changing the citizens on issues of the new strain of COVID-19.
The ministers opposed the application on the basis that the government was providing “enough information” related to COVID-19 through both mainstream media and social media platforms.
“The respondents have diligently disseminated sufficient and necessary information to safeguard lives and observe the right to information of the general public,” Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana said in his opposing affidavit.
But Justice Dube granted the interim relief, ordering the two ministries to disseminate information on the occurrence and prevalence of the COVID-19 virus strain 501Y.V2 in Zimbabwe on a regular basis.
She said COVID-19 statistics for each district in Zimbabwe should be communicated, and should include gender disaggregation, as well as list public and private testing and treatment centres and their occupation capacity or usage.
“To communicate the type and quality of medical equipment and other personnel required and any further procurement that has been made since the commencement of the current national lockdown on the 3rd January,” the order read in part.
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