Zimbabwe’s response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak
The chairman of the ad-hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Covid-19, Honourable Vice President KCD Mohadi presented the weekly Report on the national response to the Covid-19 outbreak, which was adopted by Cabinet. Cabinet was informed that the country has now recorded 567 Covid-19 confirmed cases, compared to the 486 reported on 20 June, 2020. Of the 567 confirmed cases, 474 are imported cases from South Africa, Botswana and the UK, while 77 are local cases. Harare Metropolitan Province has recorded 212 positive cases, the highest number in the country. Worth noting however, is the number of those who have recovered from the disease, which has increased from the previously reported total of 64 to 142, while deaths now stand at 7. Given the surge in the number of local transmission of the disease, Cabinet agreed that all those who test positive from both private and public quarantine centres should be moved to an identified isolation centre as a matter of urgency in order to prevent further spread of the pandemic.
As public examinations commence, it is pleasing to note that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the prevention and management of Covid-19 and other influenza-like illnesses in primary and secondary schools have been established.
In terms of Personal Protective Equipment(PPEs), some private companies have started to produce some of the medical PPEs for frontline health workers, which were largely being imported or donated. The distribution of available stocks of PPEs is ongoing. Most of the laboratory consumables purchased through Government funding have been received. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and some private sector companies have also donated Covid-19 test kits, equipment and materials.
In the tourism and hospitality sector, requests for variations of operating conditions in respect of restaurant operators and to re-open safari operators for local hunting only and national parks were granted. Restaurants will now be allowed to serve sit-in meals at 50 percent of the restaurant’s sitting capacity.
Pertaining to reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health, Government has put in place measures to support mothers. These measures include the following:
1) Allocation of designated Zupco buses for the affected health workers;
2) Provision of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment for maternity,
3) Child and reproductive health services, inclusive of community health workers; and
4) Strengthening of support system to enable health workers in maternity wards and theatres to work full shifts.
Under information and risk communication, illegal border crossing points, fuel queues and informal sector areas of operation have been targeted for information dissemination. Covid-19 hotspots such as the informal sector and some business owners require a firm hand when it comes to enforcing adherence to lockdown measures such as the proper wearing of masks and washing or sanitising hands. Returnees are also being issued with Covid-19 booklets in languages of their choice upon admission into quarantine facilities as part of an awareness programme to contain the spread of the disease in the facilities.
Strategies for Phase II of the Ease of Doing Business Reforms
Cabinet considered and approved Strategies for the Second Phase of the Ease of Doing Business Reforms, which were presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. The ease of doing business assessment ranks the country’s business environment based on a set of indicators compiled by the World Bank Doing Business Project which cover 10 areas in the life cycle of a business.
During the 2019/2020 period, Zimbabwe was ranked among the top 20 improvers in Doing Business Reforms. In general, there has been considerable progress in the country’s World Bank ranking from number 171 out of 190 countries in 2015 to the current position of 140 out of 191 countries.
To date, eight of the 10 pieces of legislation requiring amendment or enactment have been assented to. The foremost investment promotion institution, the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA) was established in 2019, while four commercial courts have been set up in the major cities and some administrative procedures streamlined to reduce investment-related bottlenecks.
Phase two of the ease of doing business reforms, which commenced in 2019, focuses on implementing the strategies required to achieve tangible results that are experienced by stakeholders and the intended beneficiaries.
These are being implemented in 16 identified areas broken down into two categories, namely: the first category which relates to nine areas of the World Bank Ease of Doing Business indicators; and the second category covering seven sector-specific areas. The are strategies being applied through the responsible line ministries and their technical working groups. In all these processes, the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) plays a central role in resolving all the challenges affecting investors in the business operating environment.
Reviewed National Micro, Small And Medium Enterprises Policy 2020-2024
The Minister of Industry and Commerce, as chairperson of the Cabinet Committee on Industrialisation and Export Development, presented the Reviewed Policy Proposal and Strategy on the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (2020-2025) and it was approved by Government together with the accompanying strategy. These provide a framework for the effective implementation and co-ordination of policies, legislation and programmes pertaining to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). This is being done to accelerate the formalisation of the informal sector.
The national MSMEs policy will be anchored on the following Pillars: Enabling Legal and Regulatory Environment; MSMEs Financial Support; Market Development and Trade Promotion; Entrepreneurship Development; Business Management, Corporate Governance and Technical Skills Development; Workspace Infrastructure Support; Access to Modern Production and Information Communication Technology (ICT); Cluster Development; Standardisation and Quality Assurance; Rural Industrialisation; Investment Promotion; and Research and Development. The Policy will also take into account cross-cutting issues that include segmentation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, empowerment, gender dimensions, youth development, disability, safety and health and the environment.
Suspension of mobile money transactions and trading on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
Cabinet was briefed on the directive suspending all agent and bulk payer accounts, as well as the restrictions on merchant accounts, which was issued by the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on 27 June, 2020. The suspension applies to all agent, bulk payer and merchant accounts held with the four mobile money service providers, namely EcoCash; OneMoney; Telecash and MyCash Financial Services. Government wishes to assure the nation that the ordinary mobile money users can still send and receive money, and pay for goods and services using the platforms.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is working tirelessly to ensure that investigations into the operations of the agent and bulk payer accounts are quickly concluded thereby minimising disruptions and inconvenience to the mobile money users.
Renewable energy projects
The Minister of Energy and Power Development briefed Cabinet on some of the renewable energy projects that are operational. The projects and their power outputs are as follows:
• Nyangani Renewable Energy (NRE) — 6 MW
• Green Fuel —3 MW
• Centragrid (solar power) — 2.5 MW
• Swaenopel Farm — 150 kwh
The projects are a good example of harnessing renewable energy to produce power for own use with the excess being fed into the National Grid. The ministry is working on the development of an electric mobility framework to promote the use of climate friendly e-vehicles. To that end, some organisations such as ZERA, Econet Vaya, ZimTorque and Brandtechn have already started importing e-vehicles, tricycles and wheel chairs.
Proposal to transform Ekusileni into a specialist teaching and research hospital
The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development briefed Cabinet on the proposal to transform Ekusileni into a specialist teaching and research hospital in line with international best practices. The state-of-the-art facility will provide an opportunity for students to undertake the necessary training and cutting edge health research, while providing a service to the nation. The facility will be run by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), and the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) will contribute the expertise and specialists requisite in running the facility as a specialist teaching and research hospital.
2020 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals
The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare advised Cabinet that the 2020 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development is scheduled to take place via video-conferencing from 7 to 17 July, 2020 under the theme “Accelerated Action and Transformative Pathways: Realising the Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development”.
The Government of Zimbabwe will represent Africa with the assistance of the Economic Commission for Africa and will present the key messages from the 2020 Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development. Zimbabwe assumed the chairmanship of the Bureau of the Africa Regional Forum in February 2020 and will relinquish the position in 2021.
The 2020 High Level Political Forum will allow participants to debate on the current status of the sustainable development goals in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Forty-seven countries will present Voluntary National Reviews on their implementation of the 2020 Agenda.