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Key findings
  • Almost two in 10 Zimbabweans (18%) say they or a member of their household became ill with COVID-19 or tested positive for the virus, while more than one- third (38%) say someone in their household lost a job, business, or primary source of income due to the pandemic.
  • More than seven in 10 Zimbabweans (72%) say they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Overall, three-fourths (75%) of Zimbabweans say the government has done a “fairly good” or “very good” job of managing the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A slim majority (53%) of citizens think the government is prepared to deal with future public health emergencies.

Zimbabwe recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on 20 March 2020 – three days after the government had declared COVID-19 a national disaster (Crisis24, 2020). A week later, schools were closed until a phased reopening started in September of that year. A nationwide lockdown in March-April 2020 was followed by slightly relaxed sets of restrictions, then reimposed in January 2021 after a surge in COVID-19 cases (Ndoma & Kugarakuripi, 2021).

Restrictions continued at various levels of intensity for more than two years. On 22 June 2022, the government lifted the night curfew and extended business hours for shops, bars, and restaurants. However, masks are still compulsory in public (Chingwere, 2022), as are sanitising
of hands when entering buildings and temperature checks when accessing certain shops, government offices, and medical facilities.
Critics have argued that the enforcement of lockdown restrictions has at times been overly harsh, with arrests of suspected violators and accusations of human-rights abuses by members of the uniformed forces and police (UN News, 2020; Amnesty International, 2021; Ndoma & Kugarakuripi, 2021).

As of 28 September 2022, the country has reported 257,409 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 5,602 deaths (WHO, 2022). More than 12.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, providing full coverage for more than 6.5 million people, or about 42% of the population.

A new Afrobarometer survey in Zimbabwe shows that while most citizens approve of the government’s overall management of the pandemic, majorities criticise its limited provision of pandemic-related assistance to vulnerable households and believe that COVID-19 resources were lost to corruption. Most are also unhappy about disruptions to children’s education.

More than seven in 10 Zimbabweans say they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and despite some concerns about vaccines, a large majority say they trust the government to ensure that the vaccines are safe.

Simangele Moyo-Nyede

Simangele is a research officer Mass Public Opinion Institute

Jonathan Kugarakuripi

Jonathan Kugarakuripi is a research officer for Mass Public Opinion Institute in Harare