- UPDATE ON ZIMBABWE’S RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK
Cabinet received an update on Zimbabwe’s Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak, which was presented by the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Honourable A. Murwira, as the Acting Chairperson of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the COVID-19 Outbreak.
As at 2 August, 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 110 855, with 79 420 recoveries and 3 635 deaths. The recovery rate stands at 72%, with 98% of COVID-19-positive cases being attributable to local transmission. The number of active cases stands at 27 800.
Government notes that there was a slight decrease in weekly cases from 14 275 during the week ending 27 July 2021, to 11 652 in week ending 2 August 2021. The decline is mostly attributable to the infection prevention and control efforts instituted by Government in response to the third wave of the COVID-19 outbreak. Areas which recorded the most significant numbers of new cases were Harare Metropolitan Province (2 361), Mashonaland East Province (1 523), Mashonaland West Province (1 136), Manicaland Province (1 361) and Masvingo Province (1 106).
The nation is called upon to continue exercising extreme caution, and complying with COVID-19 protective and preventative guidelines, protocols and measures in order to register further declines in confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Regarding Primary and Secondary Education, Cabinet notes that the sector is continuing with its preparations for the re-opening of schools.
- PROGRESS REPORT ON THE PROCUREMENT AND ROLL-OUT OF COVID-19 VACCINES
The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Honourable A. Murwira, as the Acting Minister of Health and Child Care, apprised Cabinet on progress made in the procurement and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.
The nation is advised that as of 2nd August, 2021, a total of 1 674 710 people had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 798 880 their second dose across the country. Vaccination in border town hotspots and people’s markets is ongoing, with the highest coverages of the first dose being recorded in Mutare City, Victoria Falls City, Kariba and Chiredzi. The highest coverage for the 2nd dose was recorded in Victoria Falls and Nyamapanda.
A genomic sequencing for COVID-19 samples collected in Harare revealed that 98% of the samples were of the Delta variant. The citizenry is informed that the national genomic sequencing survey is in progress and the results will be announced to the public.
The nation is informed that the Ministry of Health and Child Care is expecting 2 500 000 doses of vaccine through direct purchase in August 2021, while a further 3 500 000 doses will be received during the month of September 2021 under the COVAX facility.
In order to accelerate the vaccination programme and achieve herd immunity by the end of 2021 Cabinet has approved the following strategies:
- Extending the vaccination programme to private hospitals and private clinics to complement Government efforts. The vaccines will remain free. The institution may claim for the injection costs based on medical aid tariffs;
- Continued collaboration with the Security Sector to assist in the vaccine roll out;
- Increasing outreach teams for hard-to-reach areas, from an average of two to four teams;
- Increased provision of transport and fuel for the outreach teams;
- Reviewing the payment model of allowances for the vaccinators to be based on the number of persons vaccinated;
- Health Services Board has written to Treasury seeking concurrence to recruit retired nurses to participate in the vaccination programme;
- Using non-medical staff such as data capturers to free nurses so that they concentrate on vaccination; and
- The extension of the vaccination programme to clinics in higher and tertiary learning institutions.
Cabinet is grateful to the private sector players who are partnering Government its quest to have the citizens vaccinated. SEED-CO has managed to vaccinate 98% of its employees and has extended the vaccine offer to Government.
- UPDATE ON THE 2021 WINTER WHEAT PRODUCTION AND THE MAIZE AND COTTON SELLING SEASON
The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Honourable A. Masuka, updated Cabinet on the 2021 winter wheat production and maize marketing season.
The nation is advised that of the 85 000 hectares that had been planned for wheat, 66 435.86 hectares were planted for the Presidential, National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme (NEAPS)/Command/CBZ Agro-Yield and Private Sector schemes. This is about 78% of the target area, and 50% above last year. The area planted of 66 435.86 hectares is the third highest since independence and is only surpassed by plantings in 2004 (70 585 ha) and 2005 (67 261 ha). Wheat stocks were 79 820 metric tonnes for week ending 2 August, 2021 and is sufficient until the next harvest which is expected to commence in September.
It is highlighted that 629 007 mt of maize, 11 381 mt of soya bean and 64 798 mt of traditional grains had been delivered to the GMB as at 2 August 2021. All grain (i.e. wheat, maize, traditional grains and soya beans) delivered to date is valued at $23 199 330 820.50, of which $14 380 659 017.45 has been paid to farmers, giving an outstanding balance of $9 367 983 410.25. All efforts are being made to ensure that the backlog is cleared post haste.
On tobacco marketing, Cabinet reports that cumulative sales were 199.6 million kilogrammes valued at US$555 million, compared to the 176 million kilogrammes valued at US$440 million that were sold during the similar period last year. The prices paid were 26.1% firmer than the previous year due to improved quality offerings by farmers. On exports, 76 million kilogrammes valued at US$295.5 million have been exported compared to the 83 million kilogrammes valued at US$273 million exported during the similar period the previous year.
On seed cotton intake, a total of 82 189 metric tonnes valued at ZW$4.6 billion have been received at COTTCO depots. This intake has surpassed the 2020 figure despite being 55% of the targeted deliveries. COTTCO has paid ZW$690 876 402.60 and US$1 296 588.00 to farmers.
- UPDATE ON THE E-LEARNING STRATEGY
Cabinet received an update on the National e-Learning Strategy, which was presented by the Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Honourable J. Muswere.
As the nation may recall, Cabinet approved the National e-Learning Strategy in the first quarter of 2021. The objective of the National e-Learning is to transform the education sector through the development of adequate technological capacity for both learners and educators regardless of geographical location or economic circumstance.
The Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services wishes to accelerate the implementation of the National e-Learning Strategy through the provision of free internet services to 400 schools that already have connectivity but are encountering difficulties in paying monthly bandwidth subscriptions. The schools will be provided with data for nine months. An additional 180 rural schools will have been connected by the end of 2021, and will benefit from the same initiative.
In addition to the provision of free access to internet services at Community Information Centres and Community Village Information Centres, Government will meet all operational expenses, inclusive of staff remuneration. Taking into cognizance the financial hardships brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak, Cabinet wishes to advise the citizenry that all students, pupils and the general public using these facilities will enjoy free access to internet services at Community Information Centres and Community Village Information Centres for a period of nine months. Members of the public will, however, continue to pay for the other services such as printing, scanning and photocopying that are offered at these facilities.
Government wishes to inform the nation that Community Information Centres in Cities, Towns and at major Growth Points will support students, pupils and youths with free internet in order to o spur e-learning, e-commerce and innovation.
All the above initiatives will be implemented through the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ).
Furthermore, the National e-Learning Programme will be complemented by the UNICEF GIGA Schools Connectivity Project. The project, which is a response to COVID-19 pandemic by UNICEF and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), has the following pillars:
- Raising funding for schools connectivity;
- Mapping the connectivity status of every school;
- Connecting the unconnected and poorly connected schools to the internet; and
- Linking connected schools and young people to digital public goods that provide job skills and remote working opportunities, among other benefits.
The overall objective of GIGA in Zimbabwe is to connect every school to the internet and afford every young person access to information. The GIGA project will be rolled out in all provinces.
- PREPARATIONS FOR THE 2021 HEROES DAY COMMEMORATIONS AND DEFENCE FORCES DAY CELEBRATIONS
The Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Honourable J.G. Moyo as the Acting Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on State Occasions and National Monuments, briefed Cabinet on the 2021 Heroes Day Commemorations and the Defence Forces Day Celebrations. There will be small gatherings this year to mark the Heroes Day commemorations.
The 2021 main Heroes Day commemorations which will be held on 9 August at the National Heroes Acre will be a hybrid event with a small gathering of 200 people depicting the national outlook, such as War Veterans, Spouses of Heroes and Heroines and the Youth. His Excellency the President will address the nation using virtual platforms. In addition, the President will confer medals on 16 recipients in various categories of Honours and Awards.
Heroes Day Commemorations will also be held at all the provincial shrines where Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution will officiate. Gatherings at the Provincial Heroes Acres will be limited to fifty persons drawn from the respective districts in the province. The Ministers of State will also confer medals on nominees of the 2021 Honours and Awards.
The Defence Forces Day Celebrations will be held on 10th August, 2021 at State House in Harare with the rest of the nation following proceedings on virtual platforms.
The Heroes Day Commemoration and Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day Celebrations will only be attended by fully vaccinated persons. In addition, attendees will also be subjected to testing for Covid-19 on the day of the event.
6.0 REPORTS ON THE 7TH 100-DAY CYCLE OF THE SECOND REPUBLIC
Cabinet received and approved progress reports on the 7th 100-Day Cycle of the Second Republic which were presented by the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities Honourable D. Garwe and the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes, Honounarable Jorum M Gumbo
On projects under the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities, Cabinet was informed that in Harare, two blocks of 4 storey 3 bedroom flats constructed for accommodating doctors in Marimba were ready for commissioning. Contracts have been signed for the Dzivaresekwa Flats project where 16 x 4 storey blocks of 3 bedroom flats are under construction. The delivery of materials has commenced, and artisans have been recruited.
Under the Beitbridge Re-development Project on Housing Delivery, Cabinet was informed that the construction of a sewer line servicing 28 houses and the surrounding neighbourhood was completed and is now ready for commissioning in Hwange. Works have commenced at the Mpumalanga High Density Stands, while the layout plan for the 37 stands intented to benefit victims of previous floods in Binga was completed and a contractor will be ready to commence works by 31 August, 2021.
On projects being implemented by the District Development Fund, Cabinet was informed that the construction of roads and bridges and the drilling of boreholes and rehabilitation of irrigation schemes across many districts is making steady progress.
In Manicaland Province, DDF has completed grading on 43,5 km and spot gravelling on 5.5 km of the Nyazvidzi Parallel Road. In Mashonaland Central Province, the upgrading of the road linking the commissioned Karanda Bridge with the adjacent communities is ongoing, and a 7 km detour road has been completed.
In Mashonaland East Province, 3.5 km of the road link from the now completed Monte Cassino Bridge has been widened. It is expected that the 7 km stretch of the road will be tarred during the current cycle.
Under Mashonaland West Province, Cabinet was informed that the 10 km stretch of the Karoi-Binga Road has since been completed.
In Masvingo Province works are in progress on the Mpembedzi Bridge construction project, and road realignment has passed the 60% mark.
In Matabeleland South Province, 91 km of the Mapae-Dite-St Peters Road in Beitbridge has been graded. Work is in progress on the construction of the Gunguhwe Bridge in Gokwe, Midlands Province.
Under Irrigation Scheme Rehabilitation, Cabinet was informed that works to replace the vandalized transformer at the Lazernby Scheme in Zvimba are at an advanced stage, with a 225 KVA transformer already on site and the procurement of MCBs and other ancillary materials completed. The only outstanding activity is the installation of the transformer by ZESA, and the irrigation activities will be back to normal.
On Dam Rehabilitation, the Gariya Dam in Tsholotsho has reached 60% while rehabilitation works on the dam wall spillways has reached 90% completion. About 20 000 people will be able to access water for domestic use and for livestock upon completion of the rehabilitation works.
A total of 69 boreholes were drilled and completed out of a target of 80. These boreholes will go a long way in ensuring provision of safe and clean drinking water to beneficiary communities. To ensure continued access to clean water by communities, there is need for routine rehabilitation and maintenance of water sources. A total of 396 boreholes were rehabilitated while 2 858 boreholes were maintained from planned targets of 200 and 2000 respectively.
Health Centres need consistent water supply, and DDF targeted to drill two boreholes and install a solar powered pumping system at Masase Rural Clinic in Mberengwa. The drilling of the 2 boreholes was completed, one solar powered pump was installed, and another hand pump for the other borehole was installed. The project was completed, and the institution now has 24-hour access to clean and potable water.
Most of the projects implemented by DDF have a direct impact on citizens’ lives. With more support and capacity strengthening, DDF has the potential to reduce the development gap between urban and rural sectors of the country.
7.0 LEGISLATIVE PROGRAMME
7.1 Amendment of The State Universities Statutes Bill, 2021
Cabinet considered and approved the Amendment of the State Universities Statutes Bill, which was presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Honourable Ziyambi Ziyambi as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.
Cabinet was informed that the Bill seeks to amend the thirteen University Acts in order to align them to the Constitution as well as create uniformity among all University Acts in Zimbabwe. The Bill will amend all the University Acts in line with the Education 5.0 policy which places emphasis on teaching, research, community service, innovation and industrialization for the production of quality goods and services. The Bill will provide for a lean and efficient University Council, and ensure gender balance and fair regional representation in the appointment of the members.
Cabinet further noted that the Bill will align University Acts to the principles of good corporate governance, in accordance with the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act Chapter 20:07. The Bill will also standardize disciplinary procedures at all universities in order to remove cumbersome and costly processes.
Furthermore, the Bill will provide for terms and conditions of service of staff members, and stipulate term limits for external members of the University Council.
8.0 SUNDRY MINING INITIATIVES TOWARDS ACHIEVEMENT OF A US$12 BILLION MILESTONE BY 2023 : PART ONE
Cabinet received and noted with satisfaction an update on some of the mining initiatives which will help the nation to achieve a US$12 Billion mining industry by 2023, which was presented by the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Honourable W. Chitando.
The nation is informed that Zimbabwe is endowed with the world’s second biggest resources of chrome ore which is required for metallurgical processes such as steel manufacturing. A cumulative twenty-two smelters are now operating and are shared among nine foreign and local companies. Unless chrome mining capacity is expanded, the smelting operations could soon face the challenge of insufficient feedstock in the form of chrome ore.
In light of the need to safeguard the ferrochrome industry in the above regard, Cabinet approved a total ban on exports of raw chrome ore with immediate effect. The ban will capacitate current smelters and maximize the value chain to be realized from the country’s abundant resources as spelt out in the National Development Strategy 1. Cabinet approved the total ban of export of chrome concentrates with effect from July 2022. This gives producers of chrome concentrates a year within which to make suitable arrangements for the value addition of the concentrates, the investment of which is low capital cost and relatively easy. Accordingly, exports of any consignment of raw chrome will only be allowed provided that all the smelters are not in a position to take up and utilize that particular consignment.
The second initiative being targeted in the achievement of a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023 involves the establishment of gold centres. Gold centres are expected to provide basic equipment such as compressors and jack hammers as well as working capital to facilitate optimal production by small-scale miners who supply gold ore. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe shall maintain presence, directly or through approved buying agencies, at all Gold centres so as to buy all the gold produced. The Gold Centres will also provide technical services to miners who supply the ore.
Cabinet approved proposals for the establishment of over twenty Gold Centres by mid-2022. Accordingly, memoranda of understanding will be signed with four investors who have been identified for the purpose of setting up the Gold Centres. The investors will own 100 per cent equity in the Centres, while those who operate joint ventures with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development will fully fund the operations of the Centres in return for a 90 per cent equity stake. Cabinet therefore approved that the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development signs memoranda of understanding with investors intending to locate, establish, fund and run gold centres already provided for in the Mines and Minerals Act. Some of the Gold Centres are expected to be established in Makaha, Odzi, Mount Darwin, Shamva, Mazowe and Silobela.
Finally, in the diamonds sub-sector Cabinet noted the need to facilitate a new investor, Ashelroi Trading and Services, to participate in the diamond auction system as already stipulated in the diamond value addition chain in the National Development Strategy 1. The new investor will construct an advanced diamond cutting and polishing plant in Zimbabwe and promote skills and technology transfer on cutting and polishing.
9.0 ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT
Following a presentation on the country’s energy and power demand and supply situation by the Minister of Energy and Power Development Honourable Soda, Cabinet noted that some farmers are experiencing challenges in paying their electricity bills. In that regard, Cabinet wishes to advise farmers to separate their power reticulation between domestic and commercial consumption.
The domestic component has a pre-payment facility, while the commercial component can benefit from the post-payment facility. A Stop Order facility is available for the post-payment of farmers’ commercial bills. Farmers are advised to design appropriate strategies in order to sustain their payments for electricity as they ramp up agricultural production as spelt out under the National Development Strategy 1.
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