- 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 was presented by the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs as Chairperson of the Ad-hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Zimbabwe’s Response.
As at 24 August, 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 123 320, with 108 660 recoveries and 4 320 deaths. The recovery rate stands at 88%, with 99% of COVID-19-positive cases being attributable to local transmission. The number of active cases stands at 10 340.
Government notes that there was a 32% decrease in weekly cases from 3 761 during the week ending 15 August 2021, to 2 564 in week ending 23 August, 2021. The areas which recorded the most significant numbers of new cases were Manicaland Province (429), Harare Metropolitan Province (385), Mashonaland East Province (311), Masvingo Province (274), and Bulawayo Metropolitan Province (265).
Cabinet wishes to assure the nation that there are enough supplies of essential COVID-19 testing consumables. Government will continue ramping up the supplies.
The nation is being informed that new boreholes were drilled, while others were rehabilitated during the week under review. A total of 353 handwashing facilities were commissioned at public places, and 775 hygiene promotion sessions were conducted during the reporting week.
The Beitbridge Border Post quarantine centre received 24 deportees, while Plumtree took in 40. This brings the number of returnees received through all ports of entry to 31 249 as at 19 August, 2021.
Regarding Primary and Secondary Education, the collaboration between the Ministries of Primary and Secondary Education, and Health and Child Care has buttressed the sector’s COVID-19 prevention and management systems.
The two Ministries met with provincial teams to evaluate progress in the implementation of the Joint Operational Plan of the Standard Guidelines for the Coordinated Prevention and Management of COVID-19 at Learning Institutions. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education also met with teacher organisations and deliberated on the safe re-opening of schools, among other issues.
Noting with satisfaction the preparations for the resumption of classes in schools, Cabinet is advising that schools will re-open on 30 August, 2021 for examination classes, and on 6 September, 2021 for non-examination classes. As such, the inter-city and intra-city transportation for learners will be allowed during schools re-opening periods, subject to close monitoring by law enforcement agencies.
The nation is further informed that restaurants will be allowed to re-open for sit-in patrons who are fully vaccinated subject to the production of vaccination cards and strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
Cabinet further urges the nation to continue adhering to WHO protocols and National Guidelines in order to totally contain the third wave and thwart the possibility of a fourth one, as the pandemic is still with us.
- PROGRESS REPORT ON THE PROCUREMENT AND ROLL-OUT OF COVID-19 VACCINES
Cabinet received an update on the procurement and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, which was presented by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable C.G.D.N. Chiwenga.
The nation is advised that as of 24 August, 2021, a total of 2 382 359 people had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 1 506 445 their second dose across the country. Given the current vaccination statistics, Cabinet is confident that herd immunity will be achieved by December 2021.
The country has already acquired 13 million doses out of the 20 million required in order to achieve herd immunity. On the advice of scientists, the vaccination programme will also be extended to the 14 to 17-year age group. The Ministry of Health and Child Care will employ the following strategies in the rolling out of the vaccination exercise:
expanding the engagement of the private sector;
involving churches, universities and other institutions of higher learning; and
accelerating outreach campaigns taking advantage of the Integrated Expanded Programme for Immunisation.
To speed up the vaccination programme in Chitungwiza Town and help alleviate the shortage of health personnel, the Chitungwiza Municipality nursing staff has since been transferred to be part of the Ministry of Health and Child Care establishment.
Vaccination in border town hotspots and peoples’ markets is ongoing, with the targeted population fully vaccinated, save for those at Renkini, Stanley Hall and Mutapa Market in Bulawayo and Gweru, respectively. The highest coverage of the first dose was recorded in Victoria Falls Town (97.8%), Chirundu (97.6%), Chiredzi (87.6%), Kariba (75.6%) and Nyamapanda (68.9%).
The highest coverage for the 2nd dose was recorded in Victoria Falls (75.8%), Chiredzi (59.4%), Kariba (48.7%), and Nyamapanda (43.7%). Government also targeted and vaccinated people working on the following economic projects, namely: Hwange Energy project in Hwange; new Parliament Building in Mount Hampden and Gwayi-Shangani Dam Matebeleland North.
The nation is advised that 2 500 000 million doses of vaccine were received between 19 and 24 August, 2021. During the month of September, the country is expecting to receive 2 500 000 million doses of vaccines under direct purchase, and 943 200 doses under the COVAX programme.
Government wishes to assure the nation that it has sufficient financial resources to procure all the required vaccines. The Chinese Government has donated another 500 000 doses, while the Serbian Government has made a donation of 30 000 Sputnik V vaccine doses.
In the spirit of regional cooperation and solidarity, the Government will donate 20 000 doses of vaccines to the Government of Namibia.
- UPDATE ON THE 2021 WINTER WHEAT PRODUCTION AND THE MAIZE AND COTTON SELLING SEASON
Cabinet received an update on the 2021 winter wheat production and maize marketing season, which was presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Hon. Anxious Masuka.
Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that the early planted wheat is now at booting stage in most provinces. Bird repellent has been procured to ensure efficient control of the quelea birds that have been sighted in all provinces. Government has begun a nation-wide identification of roosting places of quelea birds.
Farmers should assist by providing surveillance information on the roosting places, and additionally can collect bird repellant from their nearest GMB depots to protect their crops. The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has been engaged to ensure efficient control of the birds. In order to eliminate side marketing, wheat contractors are putting in place harvesting and transport logistics.
The country’s current wheat stocks of 81 419 metric tonnes are sufficient until the next harvest, which is expected to commence in September.
It is highlighted that 792 325 mt of maize, 11 769 mt of soya bean and 81 755 mt of traditional grains had been delivered to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) as at 24 August 2021. Mashonaland West had the highest maize and soyabean intake, while Mashonaland Central was highest in relation to traditional grains.
On tobacco marketing, the nation is informed that cumulative sales increased to 206 639 819 kilogrammes compared to the 184 million kilogrammes that was sold during the similar period last year.
The 81 963 405 kilogrammes valued at US$318 066 431 and exported so far compares favourably to the 86 914 741 kilogrammes valued at US$283 081 584 exported during a similar period in 2020 reflecting the impact of better prices. As part of the strategy to localise the funding of tobacco, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board will contract 50 000 hectares valued at US$60 million, compared to the 12 000 hectares contracted the previous season.
On seed cotton intake, a total of 98 598 metric tonnes valued at ZW$5,2 billion has been received at COTTCO depots. The cotton is 66% of the targeted intake, and has surpassed the 2020 deliveries by 20%.
COTTCO has paid ZW$1 779 000 000 and US$1 746 115 to farmers, while Treasury has paid ZW$620 million of the ZW$850 million that was owed to cotton farmers from the 2020 marketing season.
4.0 Update on the proposed national wetlands policy and guidelines; the identification and quantification of all irregular and dysfunctional settlements; emergency road rehabilitation programme 2
4.1 PROPOSED NATIONAL WETLANDS POLICY AND GUIDELINES
Cabinet considered and approved the proposed National Wetlands Policy and Guidelines, which were presented by Honourable Vice President C.D.G.N. Chiwenga as Chairman of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management.
The approved Policy will guide wetlands management for incorporation in development planning by Government, the private sector and development partners, Traditional Leaders, communities and individuals. The Policy will facilitate the establishment of an effective and efficient institutional and legal framework for integrated management, and enhance capacity building within relevant institutions involved in the management of wetlands.
Government will designate all wetlands as areas that are unsuitable for settlement, gazette all ecologically sensitive wetlands, undertake orderly relocation of people in order to pave way for the rehabilitation of wetlands, and enforce the requirement for Environmental Management Agency certification for any developments in sensitive wetlands. There shall be efficient measures for waste management from point of source, with stiff penalties being imposed for the offence of discharging waste into wetlands.
Government shall establish wetland education centres countrywide, set up functional local wetland management institutions, restore the powers of Traditional Leaders in wetland management, and strengthen legislation to protect various habitats found on wetlands. Government will also intensify the development of climate change mitigation measures to safeguard wetlands, establish and develop recreation and eco-tourism facilities for sustainable wetland management, and promote efficient techniques and technologies for crop and livestock production on wetlands where these activities are considered appropriate.
Treasury will avail in tranches the resources required to kick-start the rehabilitation of 20 wetlands, 2 per province, before the onset of the 2021/2022 rainfall season.
- THE 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, which was presented by Honourable Vice President C.D.G.N. Chiwenga as Chairman of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management.
Cabinet is informing the nation that, the number of families in wetlands/irregular settlements stands at 31 257. The provision of relief to distressed households at the Budiriro Hall Holding Camp in harare and other sites is ongoing. Government intends to provide alternative accommodation for the households before the end of 2021, since the construction of flat apartments for the relocation exercise is now underway at various sites.
Regarding the first four blocks of flats in Dzivarasekwa which are targeted for completion by 31st December 2021, deck shattering, steel reinforcement and electrical tubing on Block 7 have been completed.
Labour recruitment for the flats project is continuing, with the active involvement of the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation. Out of the 53 recruits, 12 are trainee bricklayers from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development which will provide more artisans, including carpenters and plumbers.
Under the former Messengers Camp projects, Treasury availed ZW$200 million for construction works to commence at the Highfield (Harare ) and Senga (Gweru) camps. The Public Works Department will construct four of the eight blocks at the Senga camp, with the remaining four blocks being reserved for tendering. Treasury has provided ZW$140 million to enable works to commence.
The 14 Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle settlements will constitute the First Phase, while the costing of additional settlements is ongoing. Cabinet has directed that the First Phase should commence forthwith, utilising the ZW$75 million already provided by Treasury to implement works at Cowdray Park in Bulawayo (ZW$40 million); Binga (ZW$7.5 million); Cross Dete ( ZW$7.5 million); and in Masvingo City (ZW$20 million).
In order to allow meaningful works to commence before the onset of the 2021/2022 rainfall season, Treasury has undertaken to disburse ZW$450 million by October, in tranches of ZW$150 million in August, ZW$150 million in September, and ZW$150 million in October 2021.
With regard to settlements currently on land that was not officially acquired, a nationwide verification exercise is being undertaken by a team constituted by the Ministries of Local Government and Public Works; National Housing and Social Amenities; and Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement.
The initial ten farms that have so far been identified in this regard are Highwood, Rockwood, Umzi and Sussex under Mazowe District; Glen Forest, Gletywn, Lot 1 of Eyercourt, Remainder of Carrick Creagh of Borrowdale Estate, and Remainder of Churu Farm under Harare; and Arcon in Goromonzi District.
The farms are expected to be considered for regularisation, and this will encompass proper layout plans and engineering drawings as well as the resolution of double/multiple allocations. The verification exercise is expected to be completed by November 2021.
Government is also examining the possibility of regularizing Caledonia and Marydown Estate under Goromonzi District, through provision of modern human settlement infrastructure. The Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency will use drones to identify places where plans were not followed, and beneficiaries found to be compliant will be issued with title.
Under the Smart City concept, the model adopted for Melfort under Mashonaland East Province will be replicated in Figtree in Matabeleland South Province, and Chirundu in Mashonaland West Province.
Cabinet further wishes to inform the nation that Shelter Afrique, a Pan-African banking institution, has already released US$11 million to BancABC for the construction of social housing. Shelter Afrique is also funding a minimum of 3 000 and a maximum of 10 000 houses dedicated to His Excellency the President, and the houses will be distributed equitably across the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe.
Local authorities are therefore being engaged to provide the land required for housing construction to commence. Land will be provided for Shelter Afrique’s SADC Regional Office in Zimbabwe, and for a new building technology plant which Shelter Afrique will set up in Harare.
4.3 EMERGENCY ROAD REHABILITATION PROGRAMME 2
Cabinet received an update on the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2, which was presented by Honourable Vice President C.D.G.N. Chiwenga as Chairman of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management and wishes to inform the nation that the programme continues to register significant progress, as evidenced by increased activity around the country.
Cabinet noted the progress and directed that the Emergency Road Rehabilitation be intensified in order to improve the state of roads and thereby facilitate the movement of essential supplies as well as ease of travel by ordinary road users.
5.0 THE COUNTRY’S ENERGY AND POWER SUPPLY SITUATION
Cabinet received a report on the country’s fuel and power demand and supply situation, which was presented by the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Honourable Zhemu Soda.
Cabinet noted with deep concern that some fuel companies are abusing the foreign currency obtained from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Auction to procure fuel and then sell the fuel to consumers in foreign currency.
The companies are supposed to follow laid down regulations, in order to enable the general motoring public to access fuel in the local currency. Cabinet was furnished with a comprehensive list of the companies and retail outlets abusing the foreign currency facility, and directed that firm action be instituted against the unscrupulous traders.
The action involves prosecution of offenders, cancellation of fuel trading licences, or a heavy fines as shall be determined by the team of relevant line Ministries in conjunction with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as the source of the funds so abused.
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