- UPDATE ON ZIMBABWE’S RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK
Cabinet received an update on the country’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs presented as the Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the COVID-19 Outbreak.
Cabinet was informed that as at 12 February 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 35 045, with 29 959 recoveries, 1 393 deaths, a case fatality rate of 4.0%, and a recovery rate of 85,5%. Indications are that 33 348 cases contracted the virus from local transmission. Active cases are now 3 693, while the cumulative number of infected Health Care Workers is 3 909, with 17 deaths. Generally, the surge in cases is coming under control.
In view of the realisation that infection and death rates are still high despite a downward trend, Cabinet endorsed His Excellency the President’s decision to extend the Level Four lockdown measures for a further two weeks. The curfew will now be in force from 2000 hours to 0530 hours while business operating hours have been increased slightly, from the previous 0800-1500 hours to 0800-1700 hours.
Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that results of the genomic sequencing recently conducted indicate that the type of COVID-19 virus that the nation had in 2020 has receded. There is now a 61% dominance of the new South African variant of the COVID-19 virus which spreads faster and has a higher fatality rate.
Accordingly, the nation now needs to be more vigilant than before and adhere to COVID-19 prevention and control measures. Security personnel have therefore been directed to intensify monitoring and enforcement in order to enhance compliance.
- PROGRESS REPORT ON THE PROCUREMENT AND ROLL-OUT OF THE COVID-19 VACCINES
Cabinet received a progress report on the procurement and roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines, which was presented by Honourable Vice President Chiwenga as Minister of Health and Child Care.
While noting that the COVID-19 outbreak was continuing to cause suffering and deaths the world over, Cabinet reiterated its commitment to undertake a robust vaccination procurement and roll-out programme in order to achieve the desired herd immunity for at least 60% of the population. Distribution of COVID-19 vaccines will follow the existing distribution structure of routine vaccines and supplies.
As stated last week, Cabinet wishes to assure the nation that the approach to the vaccine issue is based on science and continuing research. Vaccines are being sourced from manufacturers, through multiple financing arrangements. Vaccines are registered by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe, in terms of Section 75 of the Medicines and Allied Substances Control Act.
A committee is implementing vaccine vigilance plans to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccine consignments are physically verified for the implementation of safety measures.
Cabinet wishes to inform the public that public-private partnerships are being co-ordinated by the Ministry of Finance and Development. The total estimated operational budget for COVID-19 vaccination over all the phases is US$6 778 777.00. Many well-wishers including the Governments of India, China, and the Russian Federation are supporting Zimbabwe’s vaccine programme.
Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that a consignment of 200 000 vaccines was received from Sinopharm on Monday, 15th February 2021 as a donation from the Peoples Republic of China. The vaccination programme commences on 18th February 2020, on a voluntary basis and will be free. The aim of the first phase is to vaccinate 22%, 18,4% under Phase 2; 18,4% under Phase 3, thereby yielding a vaccinated population of nearly 60% of the population.
Cabinet further wishes to inform the nation that the priority for the vaccine roll-out programme will be accorded to the country’s health workers, followed health personnel in the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Defence Forces, and the Prisons and Correctional Services. The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, Immigration and Agritex workers will also be prioritised under Phase 1. Persons who are over 60 years and other vulnerable groups will also be targeted under the initial phase.
Phase 2 will encompass college and university lecturers and school teachers, while the rest of the population at low risk will be catered for under Phase 3. Cabinet further wishes to assure the nation that training of the trainers has already commenced. Training is focusing on vaccine storage, communication, surveillance, vaccination, monitoring and evaluation and waste management. Vaccination will take place at fixed and outreach points, and will cover 10 days in the first round and 5 days in the second round.
All persons vaccinated will be registered and advised when to report for the second dose. All the people who are given a first dose, are assured of a second dose. It must be noted that vaccination will be on a voluntary basis. There will be close monitoring and surveillance for any adverse reactions to the vaccines.
Cabinet also wishes to assure the nation that procurement of vaccines is an ongoing process in line with the set target. Research is also continuing to ensure that only suitable vaccines will be administered on our people.
- IDENTIFICATION AND QUANTIFICATION OF IRREGULAR AND DYSFUNCTIONAL SETTLEMENTS IN LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND ON WETLANDS
Cabinet received a progress report on the identification and quantification of all irregular and dysfunctional settlements in local authorities and on wetlands which was presented by Honourable Vice President C.G.D.N Chiwenga as Chairman of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management.
Cabinet was informed that the process of producing a masterplan of all ecologically sensitive areas has started. Technical teams comprising experts from the Zimbabwe Geospatial and Space Agency and the Environmental Management Agency in collaboration with the relevant Ministries are expected to take about two and half months to complete the mapping exercise. Similarly, the delineation of the country’s wetlands has already started. A National Wetlands Policy has been prepared as part of the wider strategy to protect the country’s multi-faceted habitats and ensure sustainable management of the natural environment and resources.
On the identification and quantification of households in irregular and dysfunctional settlements, including in flood-prone areas, Cabinet was informed that the verification process is underway and should be completed in the coming ten days. Care is being exercised to ensure that only deserving beneficiaries are registered for relocation.
The first category is of families currently illegally settled dangerously on land. These will be relocated as soon as the identified destinations have been prepared and equipped with services, in order to pave way for the demolition of their illegal structures.
The second category shall be for those families settled on land suitable for urban development but which requires regularisation and the provision of basic municipal services.
Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that devolution funds will be used for the housing construction programme. Financial instruments which will encourage the private sector to participate in infrastructural development are being designed, particularly for housing. Existing urban regeneration programmes are being revived for building flats in places such as Mbare in Harare, Makokoba in Bulawayo, and Sakubva in Mutare and other cities. In future, up to 40% of all housing settlements in urban areas will follow the high-rise model for densification which frees land for industries, schools, clinics, recreational centres and other social development aspects. In addition, Government is in the process of deploying to all provinces personnel with the requisite skills in physical planning, infrastructure development and environmental management.
On the repair of roads damaged by the current rains as well as previous cyclones, Cabinet approved an Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme consisting of corrective, preventive and restoration works. The project will take up an initial US$80 million for emergency road works covering 60 days; US$120 million for preventive works spanning 6 months; US$120 million for rehabilitation and reconstruction works spanning 6 to 18 months; and US$80 million for other related works spanning 18 to 36 months.
4.0 PRINCIPLES FOR THE PROPOSED ZIMBABWE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY COUNCIL BILL, 2019
Cabinet considered and approved the Principles of the Proposed Zimbabwe Construction Industry Council Bill, 2019, which were presented by the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities. The Bill will establish a Construction Industry Council which will regulate the built environment by ensuring registration and monitoring of the construction companies carrying out work in the country. The Zimbabwe Construction Industry Council Bill will provide for the following:
- the establishment and composition of the Construction Industry Council (ZCIC), and the tenure of the members thereof;
- the recognition of the disadvantaged and marginalized members of society, including women and the youth, war veterans and the physically challenged, to participate on locally funded projects up to a certain threshold without compromising on quality of materials and workmanship;
- the awarding of 100% preference to Domestic and Zimbabwean owned companies for locally funded public works up to ZW$1 billion;
- the establishment of partnerships between foreign companies and Zimbabwean owned companies on public projects which are foreign funded; and
- the compulsory registration of all construction companies by the Council.
The Bill will go a long way in restoring sanity in the construction industry and providing recourse to the general public, who more often than not is usually on the receiving end at the hands of unscrupulous contractors. It will also enforce adherence to building standards and by-laws in the construction industry.
5.0 THE REVISED NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY: 2020 – 2025
Cabinet considered and approved the Revised National Youth Policy: 2020 – 2025, which was presented by Honourable Vice President K.C.D. Mohadi as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Social Services and Poverty Eradication.
Having noted the prevailing challenges faced by the youth and noting the need to facilitate the empowerment and well-being of the youth, Government undertook wide stakeholder consultations across the country and came up with the proposed Policy.
The Policy seeks to create an empowered youth which is actively involved in national development. It comprises four (4) thematic areas namely: Education and Skills Development; Employment and Entrepreneurship; Youth Governance and Participation; and Health and Well-being, and fifteen (15) strategic areas to achieve the total development of the youth. Five of the strategic areas pay special attention to cross-cutting issues, namely: gender mainstreaming; inclusivity; information communication technology; data and research as well as youth co-ordination and mainstreaming.
The Policy has adopted the integrated multi-sectoral approach to youth development and empowerment, putting emphasis on mainstreaming youths in Zimbabwe by systematically integrating their issues into all development programmes and projects at all levels and within all sectors, both public and private. The mainstreaming of youths in line Ministries will ensure that Government Departments will work in a more coordinated, cooperative and harmonised manner when designing and delivering programmes and services which address youth development needs and opportunities.
The establishment of youth focal desks in Government Departments will ensure that youth issues are mainstreamed in all facets of national development including having access to productive resources and opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, mining, tourism, manufacturing, sport, arts and recreation. The youth focal desks will facilitate operationalisation of provisions of Section 20 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe in terms of implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting by the respective line Ministries, Departments and Agencies. Local Authorities will play a pivotal role in the establishment of Youth Interact Centres, a youth-led project which enables easy peer-to-peer knowledge exchange.
The youths will continue to play an integral role in the realisation of the national vision to transform the country into an upper middle income economy by 2030, as they account for 36 percent of the population, and have the energy, creativity and ideas for developing the country. The Policy is consistent with the Constitution of Zimbabwe and major regional and international Conventions and Agreements that Zimbabwe is party to. In order to ensure coordinated implementation of programmes, the Policy shall be complemented by a National Action Plan.
I THANK YOU