ZCTU drags govt to court over Covid-19 regulations

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By Alois Vinga

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has dragged government to court over perceived illegalities contained in various Statutory Instruments (SIs) outlining Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

The application recorded under High Court’s record HC 2271/20 presents five grounds justifying the matter to be heard on an urgent basis.

The federation questioned why SI 103/2020 which makes screening and testing mandatory has to remain in force even after expiry of the national lockdown.

It is argued that the use of Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT) in Zimbabwe contradicts the World Health Organisation guidelines which state that the method can only be used in research settings and not be extended for any other setting including clinical decision making, until evidence for supporting use of specific indications is available.

“Continued RDT use violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women In Africa,” argued the workers group.

ZCTU also criticised sections 11 (F) 7 of SI 99 of 20 as amended by SI 102 of 20 and 7 (A) 9 SI 103 of 20 which empower an enforcement officer to access any land or premises where exempted persons are present or employed and demand documentary proof of RDT or other tests carried out saying it is a violation of the right to privacy which forbids disclosure of one’s health status.

The unions group is also seeking an order which compels government to assume full responsibility of conducting Covid-19 testing in line with international best practices.

The court papers have challenged the requirements by the security sector compelling workers in essential services to obtain clearance letters from the Zimbabwe Republic Police and industry representatives saying such processes were unnecessarily time consuming and inconveniencing.

“…Section 4(h) of the Public Health (Covid19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order, 2020, Statutory 83 of 2020, as amended, makes it mandatory for every individual who is permitted to leave his or her home to be in any public space to wear a face mask, continuously whilst in a public place, exposing them to Hypercapnia and risk of respiratory failure, pneumonia, or lung cancer,” ZCTU added.