UPDATE ON THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK
Cabinet received an update on the country’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which was presented by the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs as Chairperson of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on COVID-19.
Cabinet was informed that as at yesterday 1st March 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 36 115, with 32 905 recoveries and 1 463 deaths. It is noted that the positivity rate is declining, a trend attributable to preventive measures being enforced across the country.
It is in line with this decline that His Excellency the President has now reviewed the lockdown measures. Going forward the following reviews are now made to the previously announced lockdown measures:
(i) the wearing of face masks, temperature checks as well as washing of hands or use of sanitisers in all public areas remain mandatory
(ii) the curfew which was starting from 2000 hours and ending at 0530hrs is now starting from 2200 hours and ending at 0500 hours. Letters are no longer required for movement
(iii) supermarkets can now remain open up to 7pm to reduce congestion, and must enforce social distancing within their premises
(iv) industry can open, with strict adherence to World Health Organisation set standards and National Covid 19 Guidelines such as the regular disinfection of premises, social distancing, hand sanitization and use of body temperature checks at entrances. Non compliance in this regard will attract targeted closures of entities.
SMEs, food markets and the informal sectors can re-open on condition that they strictly adhere to the World Health Organisation set standards and National Covid 19 Guidelines. In the education sector, schools must prepare to open and put in place measures which observe the World Health Organisation Protocols and National COVID-19 Guidelines. Virtual learning or long distance learning is encouraged where possible.
(v) Universities and Colleges must also prepare to open and ensure compliance with the World Health Organisation Protocols and National COVID-19 Guidelines. Virtual learning or long distance learning is encouraged where possible.
Non compliance to the above requirements will attract targeted closures of the respective institutions.
(vi) Inter-city travel can now resume. Bus operators, however, must ensure the disinfection of their buses, wearing of masks, temperature checks and sanitization of passengers.
Social gatherings and funerals shall maintain a maximum number of 30 people. Other gatherings, including churches, shall not exceed 50 people. Restaurants can open for take-aways and deliveries, with no sit-in permitted. Beer halls, bars, night clubs and gymnasiums remain closed. Bottle stores must strictly operate take-aways as required by the law. A Statutory Instrument will outline in detail the above measures.
Cabinet agreed that the school calendar for 2021 starts on a slightly phased approach, with the examination classes opening on 15th March and the rest on 22nd March 2021. Teachers for examination classes should therefore report for duty on 10th of March, and the rest on 17th March, 2021.
There shall be rotational school attendance in classes where learners cannot exercise social distancing. On the days when learners are not at school, they will be engaged through strategies such as Open Distance Learning and e-learning. Relevant modules are already under production. Among the catch-up strategies, all continuing classes will start with 2020 work. Syllabi have been compressed to facilitate accelerated coverage. Both Primary and Secondary school levels will follow three levels of accelerated compressed syllabus coverage.
2.0. PROCUREMENT AND ROLL-OUT OF THE COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAMME
Cabinet received an update on the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, which was presented by Honourable Vice President C.G.D.N. Chiwenga as the Minister of Health and Child Care. Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that the First Phase of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme is targeting frontline workers, the security sector and members of the media, the elderly and those with underlying conditions.
Also being targeted are ports of entry staff, funeral parlour and Agritex personnel. More vaccines are being procured. As indicated before, the vaccination is voluntary and free. Citizens are being encouraged to remain vigilant and protect themselves, their loved ones, communites and the entire nation.
The nation is further informed that last week, President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China donated a further 200 000 doses, taking China’s total donation of vaccines to 400 000 doses. Over and above the donated 400 000, another 600 000 doses of Chinese vaccines purchased by Government will be arriving in the coming weeks. The Russian Federation, India and the United Kingdom have also pledged donations of various vaccines, with Russia promising 20 000 doses of the Sputnik V Vaccine and India promising 75 000 doses.
Government has established a team of experts drawn from the academia, Ministry of Health and Child Care, and Research and Clinical Practictioners to monitor the effectiveness of the vaccine. The team’s recommendations will guide the country’s vaccination rollout programme at all times.
No major adverse reactions have been recorded to date, except for a single case of a minor reaction which manifested in a rash.
3.0 UPDATE ON THE EMERGENCY ROAD REHABILITATION PROGRAMME
Cabinet received an update on the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme, which was presented by Hon. Vice President Chiwenga as Chairman of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management. The update came against the background of the massive damage to infrastructure across the country from the ongoing heavy rains.
The country has a total road network of 98 049 km, distributed among the four categories of Road Authorities, namely: the Department of Roads; the District Development Fund; Urban Local Authorities; and Rural District Authorities. The Rehabilitation Programme is targeting the following categories: regional trunk roads linking Zimbabwe with neighbouring countries; major highways connecting the main cities; major arteries in urban local authorities; rural access roads; and bridges and other drainage structures weakened or destroyed by flooding.
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development will lead the processes on the identification and prioritization of road infrastructure in need of rehabilitation; identification of scope of works, outlining of key activities and deliverables; development programmme of works, bills of quantities and cash-flow plans; equipment mobilization and procurement of labour and materials; and project management, supervision and certification of completed works.
Cabinet was also informed that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has already released ZW$480 million towards the Programme. In order to empower local communities, the communities will be engaged under the Labour-Based Arrangement where casual work shall be parceled out to them on their respective stretches along the roads. Local farmers will also be contracted to assist with verge clearing along major roads adjacent to their farms.
The RDCs will be required, as part of capacity building, to run staff training programmes for machinery operators in their respective areas of jurisdiction. A programme to re-gravel rural roads, especially in areas with sandy soils, such as Nkayi District in Matabeleland North Province will be undertaken in order to ensure a reliable network of feeder roads which support socio-economic development.
4.0 NATIONAL WETLANDS MASTERPLAN
Cabinet received a progress report on the production of a Wetlands Master plan, which was presented by Hon. Vice President Chiwenga as Chairman of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management.
Cabinet was informed that the ongoing flooding which has rendered many homes uninhabitable has drawn attention to the need to adopt proper land use practices and avoid settlement in wetlands. Accordingly, work on the National Wetlands Masterplan has begun in earnest. Fieldwork for Greater Harare commenced on Monday, 1st March, 2021. In order to expedite the process, the model being developed for Harare will be replicated across the country, with rules being put in place to scientifically define wetlands and clearly delineate them. The Wetlands geo-database will be deposited with the National Data Centre, with a Wetlands mobile application being available to assist policy formulation and land use planning.
The deliverables of the current efforts will be as follows: an interactive wetlands map for Zimbabwe; wetland sub-maps for each of the ten provinces, down to district and ward level, with co-ordinates accessible on the Web Map; and a categorised wetlands map to guide utilisation thereof. Treasury is funding the $6 422 430.00 for the project.
5.0 PROPOSED MUSHA-MUZI HOUSING PROGRAMME
Cabinet considered and approved the proposed Musha-Muzi Housing Programme for the Development of affordable housing, which was presented by Honourable Vice President C.G.D.N. Chiwenga, as the Chairman of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management.
Cabinet was informed that the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) proposed the establishment of the Musha-Muzi Housing Fund. The Fund will anchor and facilitate the sustainable financing and development of affordable houses for the lowest earning members of society. An independent housing governance ecosystem will be created to operationalise the scheme and assure participants of utmost prudence in managing the Fund.
The Programme comprises four phases. Phase 1 will target civil service employees and will be replicated countrywide, while phases 2, 3 and 4 will be extended to non-government employees. The Musha-Muzi programme will build a four-roomed house on a 200 square-metre piece of land. In redevelopment areas, the Programme will focus on the construction of high-rise developments in areas already serviced by existing municipal facilities. For the high-rise developments, an average of 800 square metres will be required for development of four storey units to cater for sixteen families.
The Fund will, through its Fund Managers, approve and appoint qualified and competent developers for the construction of the housing units, with each developer expected to construct a minimum of 50 units or more per development. Developers will be paid on satisfactory completion of each development. Meanwhile, interested financial institutions with the capacity to provide mortgage facilities within the required financial levels will be given a stock of housing units to release to the market. Identified and approved beneficiaries will then access mortages through the institutions at the indicated affordable housing rates.
Implementation of the Musha-Muzi project will be co-ordinated by the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities, in consultation with all relevant critical stakeholders. It will be based on a public-private partnership model. The nation is assured of Government’s commitment to providing decent accommodation to its citizens.
6.0 UPDATE ON IDENTIFICATION AND QUANTIFICATION OF ALL IRREGULAR AND DYSFUNCTIONAL SETTLEMENTS, INCLUDING IN FLOOD PRONE AREAS
Cabinet received an update on the identification and quantification of irregular and dysfunctional settlements including in flood prone areas which was presented Hon. Vice President Chiwenga as Chairman of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management.
On progress achieved as at 1st March 2021, Cabinet was informed that the identification and quantification of irregular and dysfunctional settlements, including in flood prone areas, has been completed. The verification of numbers of people affected is underway in all provinces in order to lock out opportunists, and will be completed by 12th March, 2021.
On the relocation strategy for settlements affected by flooding, Cabinet wishes to advise that the exercise to move affected households to holding camps has already started in the Harare Metropolitan Province, and will spread to all the other provinces. Households in Harare Metropolitan, Midlands and Manicaland provinces who are affected have been identified and quantified for relocation.
Cabinet is therefore informing the public that in Mbare, four (4) sites have been identified under Phase 1 of the Mbare Re-development Programme, with potential to accommodate in excess of 2,000 households at an estimated cost of ZW$ 6,5 billion. The architectural designs for the proposed flats and the attendant three-dimension models for the development are available.
In Tafara/Manresa under Harare City Council, available serviced land
adjacent to existing flats has been identified, and 21 blocks of flats can be constructed to accommodate 336 households, at an estimated to cost of ZW $337,750,000.00. In Dzivarasekwa, serviced State land adjacent to existing flats is available, and160 blocks of flats can be constructed to accommodate 2 560 households. The estimated cost for the works is ZW$ 2,520,000,000.00. In Prospect, near Ardbennie, available serviced land adjacent to existing flats can accommodate at least 15 blocks of flats for 240 households, at a cost of ZW$ 840,000,000.00.
In addition, high rise flats will be prioritised at former Messengers’
Camps in all provincial capitals and some districts across the country.
The Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities is engaging private sector players so that they also participate and take up additional projects under Phase 1 of the programme. Factory shells that attract investors will also assist in creating employment in order to reduce distances that citizens often traverse to get to workplaces.
Cabinet resolved that the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities will lead the process of co-ordinating the resource mobilization and prioritization of housing projects.
7.0 COMPENDIUM OF PROJECTS IMPLEMENTED BY THE SECOND ZIMBABWE REPUBLIC: JANUARY 2018 – DECEMBER, 2020
Cabinet received an update on the compendium of projects implemented by the Second Zimbabwe Republic from January 2018 to December 2020, which was presented by the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes, Honourable J. Gumbo.
Cabinet wishes to inform the public that as part of its efforts to fulfil its commitment to transparency and accountability, Government produced a compendium of all completed and ongoing infrastructural and other projects by province. Out of a total 1 388 projects which were implemented countrywide by the Second Zimbabwe Republic during the period 2018 to 2020, 829 were infrastructural projects, while 559 were non-infrastructural projects. Of the projects implemented, 868 were completed, while 520 were ongoing. Eight hundred and twenty-nine (59.7%) projects were infrastructure-related, and 559 (40.3%) were other projects.
Of the 868 completed projects, 672 are infrastructural, and 196 are other projects, giving credence to the thrust of Government to emphasize on building infrastructure in order to create an enabling environment for socio-economic development. Some of the notable infrastructural projects in which considerable traction has been registered include the Skyline-Chimanimani Road Rehabilitation in Manicaland following destruction by Cyclone Idai; the widening of the Beitbridge-Masvingo-Harare Highway; establishment of Community Information Centres, containerised village Information Centres and fibre optic links across the country; innovation hubs at State Universities such as MSU, NUST among others in the Education Sector.
In the health sector, the rehabilitation and upgrading of health facilities included construction of clinics and establishment of superspecialist hospitals. Notable in this regard are health facilities such as the Manicaland State University Clinic in Mutare, the Orthopaedic Hospital in Bulawayo and the BMB at United Bulawayo Hospital. In the Energy Sector, the expansion of the Kariba Power Station and the Hwange Thermal Station have led to increase in power added to the national grid, thereby promoting energy self-sufficiency.
In line with the 12 billion-dollar Mining Industry by 2023 thrust, notable projects of impact include the Intra-chem Explosives Manufacturing Plant, the expansion and operationalisation of the Afro-Chine Plant, and the manufacture of Transformer cartridges project. In the housing sector, Government prioritised the construction of institutional accommodation, servicing of stands and provision of requisite social amenities. Notable projects include the New Parliament Building, the Tomlinson Depot ZRP flats, and the Civil Servants Housing Scheme in Dzivaresekwa. The focus of Government has also been on improving agricultural production through mechanisation and irrigation development.
Notable projects include the Mechanisation Equipment under the John Deere Facility, and the 40-hectare Centre Pivots installed in Kanyemba, Mbire District of Mashonaland Central Province. In the water and sanitation sector, notable projects include the rehabilitation works on Gariya Dam in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North Province, the Piped water supply at Museri Clinic in Chiweshe in Mashonaland Central, and the Mabhula Sewer Treatment Plant in Zvishavane, Midlands Province.
Government will continue to update the nation on progress in the implementation of projects countrywide.
8.0 PREPAREDENESS FOR THE 2020/21 SUMMER HARVESTING PERIOD
Cabinet received and adopted the state of preparedness for the 2020/21 Summer Harvesting Period, which was presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement.
Cabinet was informed that although the Ministry is awaiting the results of the First Round of the Crops and Livestock Assessment later in March, 2021, for planning purposes an estimated national production of 2.5 to 2.8 million metric tonnes of maize an 360 000 metric tonnes of traditional grains has been based on the promising bumper harvest in 2021. On the basis of the afore-stated estimates, deliveries to the GMB are expected to be 2 million metric tonnes of cereals (that is, 1.8 million metric tonnes of maize and 200 000 metric tonnes of traditional grains).
A number of measures have been proffered by the Ministry in anticipation of the bumper harvest in 2021. In that regard, the Directorate of Agricultural Engineering, Mechanisation and Soil Conservation has been re-established, with a dedicated Department of Post-Harvest Technology and Storage Engineering to safeguard harvests. Information and advice on best grain storage practices will thus be produced and disseminated through pamphlets the national television and radio programmes, bulk SMS and field days. Safe storage practices demonstrations using metal silos, granaries, cocoons, haematic bags and ordinary bags have also been budgeted for.
Regarding the supply of combine harvesters for the efficient and timeous harvesting of grain, an additional 72 and 21 combine harvesters from the John Deere Facility and the Belarus Programme will be mobilised, respectively. Government is also mobilising internal capacity for combine harvesting through the repair of 25 non-functional combines which are owned by institutions and individuals. Furthermore, a total of 200 shellers, which will be made available through the Land Bank Special Purpose Vehicle, ARDA and GMB on a cost recovery basis, will be produced by the local industry for use in harvesting 200 000 hectares for the 120-day harvesting period. In the same vein, the Ministry is importing an additional 13 mobile grain dryers from Italy, to the tune of US$1.3 million each, with a capacity of 28 metric tonnes per shift and up to 140 metric tonnes per day.
Modalities for grain mobilisation, purchase, storage and infrastructure upgrading are already at an advanced stage, with 665 COTTCO collection and buying points having been earmarked for use by the GMB as additional collection points. In terms of payment to farmers, which has all along been based on a centralised system, the GMB is working on a decentralised payment system to be administered at the depots in order to guarantee the timeous payment of farmers for delivered grain.
Government assures the farmers that adequate measures have been put in place to stem post-harvest losses in the light of the above normal rains being received across the country.
I THANK YOU