By Defence Minister Opah Muchinguri-Kashiri
1.0 UPDATE ON ZIMBABWE’S RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19
Cabinet received an update on Zimbabwe’s Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak, which was presented by the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Honourable O.C.Z. Muchinguri-Kashiri, as the Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the COVID-19 Outbreak.
As at 16 May, 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 38 560, with 36 329 recoveries and 1 582 deaths. The recovery rate stands at 94.2%, with 95.5% of COVID-19 positive cases being attributable to local transmission. The number of active cases stand at 649.
In order to ensure enforcement of Statutory Instrument No. 108 of 2021 in relation to the country’s ports of entry and exit, Cabinet wishes to advise that citizens returning to Zimbabwe will now be quarantined at their own expense. Furthermore, those travellers found to be positive for COVID-19 will be isolated at an isolation centre at their own expense.
With regard to stepping up surveillance of the public transport system, the nation is informed that the Vehicle Inspectorate Department, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) are flushing out the unregistered vehicles. To date 7 012 vehicles have been impounded for failure to display number plates and illegal operations (mushikashika).
Cabinet also wishes to inform the public that the Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and (National Lockdown (No.2) Order, 2020 published in Statutory Instrument (SI) 200 of 2020 was amended on Friday 14 May 2021 and published in SI 119. The major highlight of the amendment is that it now defines persons entering Zimbabwe into 3 categories, namely: (a) returning citizens or residents of Zimbabwe; (b) persons referred to in section 8(1)(i) of the Statutory Instrument (SI); and (c) a national or ordinary resident of a SADC country in transit through Zimbabwe to another SADC country.
2.0 PROGRESS REPORT ON THE PROCUREMENT AND ROLL-OUT
OF COVID-19 VACCINES
The Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable C.G.D.N. Chiwenga, appraised Cabinet on progress made in the procurement and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.
As of 16th May, 2021, a total of 591 808 people had received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines and 222 450 their second dose across the country. Members of the public are urged to go to their nearest health facility to receive their COVID-19 vaccine so that the country achieves the required herd immunity to control the spread of the disease.
The nation is advised that a COVD-19 patient from Kwekwe died on arrival at Kwekwe General Hospital on 12th May 2021. Contact tracing has detected positive cases in the family of the deceased, further there was a student who had arrived from India on the 29th of April 2021 and the student was PCR negative. Another test was conducted on the student after the death of the COVID-19 case and results were negative.
To date, eleven COVID-19 cases are linked to the case of the person that died in Kwekwe. The nation is advised that Genomic sequencing tests are being done to determine if there was an import of the Indian strain. All positive persons are quarantined at home, are stable and are being closely monitored.
The nation is informed that the United Nations Aids (UNAIDS) had congratulated the Republic of Zimbabwe for achieving the 90-90-90 flagship treatment target by year 2020. This means that 90% of the HIV-infected persons know their status; 90% of HIV-infected persons are on Anti-retroviral Treatment; and that 90% of HIV person on treatment have a viral load suppression.
3.0 2021 FIRE SEASON VELDT FIRE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
Cabinet considered and approved the 2021 fire season veldt fire management strategies as presented by the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Honourable N.M. Ndhlovu
The nation is informed that uncontrolled veldt fires remain the most threatening factor on Zimbabwe’s forests, pastures, crop lands, property, infrastructure and food security. This year, the country is generally in the high risk category of 65.2% to the extreme risk of category 24.7% of veldt fires outbreaks countrywide. This is as a result of the good rainfall in the 2020/2021 season.
The Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Manicaland Provinces are at extreme risk, while Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands and Masvingo provinces are at high risk of the veldt fires.
With a prediction of 89.9% of the country being in the high to extreme high fire risk, Cabinet approved the 2021 Fire Season Veldt Fire Management Strategy in order to reduce veldt fires.
This will entail the following initiatives: conducting a farm level fire awareness blitz to raise awareness and sensitise farmers and communities on the environmental provisions on veldt fire management; carrying out of farm level inspections to monitor compliance to fire preparedness protocols; intensifying fireguard construction; hay baling, thatch grass cutting; and combing for sale for the provisioning of feed and biomass reduction.
All local authorities are required to come up with plans for veldt fire management. Furthermore, there is need for controlled early block burning in State protected areas and private estates, as well as road servitude grass cutting and maintenance by all Road Authorities. The Zimbabwe Republic Police will strictly enforce the law where there are violations.
4.0 PRIORITY PROJECTS AND REPORTING SCHEDULE FOR THE SEVENTH 100-DAY CYCLE OF THE SECOND REPUBLIC
Cabinet considered and approved the National Priority Projects for the Seventh 100-Day Cycle of the Second Republic, which were presented by the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes, Honourable J.M. Gumbo.
A total of One Hundred and Fourteen (114) projects were submitted for implementation under the 7th 100-Day cycle, which commenced on 15 April, 2021 and ends on 23 July, 2021.
The priority projects were selected based on set criteria, with the key criterion being that they should have an evident positive impact on the livelihoods of the citizenry by contributing to the attainment of the National Development Strategy 1: 2021-2025. The selected projects are therefore citizen-centric, of high impact, can be implemented rapidly, and have readily available resources.
Cabinet advises that, of the 114 projects that were submitted, a total of 74 projects are ongoing and the rest are new. The projects are distributed across the 14 thematic areas of the NDS1, namely:
1. Food and Nutrition Security;
2. Infrastructure and Utilities;
3. Moving the Economy up the Value Chain and Structural Transformation;
5. Environmental Protection, Climate Resilience and Natural Resources Management;
6. Housing Delivery;
7. Health and Well-Being;
8. Human Capital Development;
9. Social Protection;
10. Image Building and International Re-engagement;
12. Economic Growth and Stability;
13. Youth, Sport and Culture; and
14. The Digital Economy.
It is highlighted that the Executive Electronic Dashboard (EED), which is now linked to the Whole-of-Government Performance Management System, will be used as an e-planning, e-monitoring and e-reporting tool for expeditious decision-making purposes at all levels. The mid-term progress reports will be presented to Cabinet after day 50 of the Cycle, with regular monitoring visits being undertaken to selected projects and a publication produced at the end of the Cycle.
5.0 UPDATE ON ZIMBABWE’S PARTICIPATION AT EXPO 2020 DUBAI: 1 OCTOBER 2021 – 31 MARCH 2022
The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, as Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, presented an update on Zimbabwe’s Participation at Expo 2020 Dubai, which is scheduled to run from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. The Expo was initially supposed to have been held from October 1, 2020 to April 10, 2021 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nation is advised that the Expo will run under the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. The three sub-themes for the event, which form the pillars around which countries, companies and industries will amplify their exhibitions, will be as follows: “Opportunity”; “Mobility”; and “Sustainability”. The promotional activities that will be showcased include Retail Store, The World Market Kiosk, Culinary Experiences, Fashion, Arts and Culture, Thematic Business Forums, and Women’s Pavillion.
Zimbabwe will participate and exhibit under the Opportunity sub-theme cluster, emphasizing the business opportunities, new industries, employment, financial, governance and education opportunities available.
The country’s theme statement is “Zimbabwe-the Land of a Great People”, which will showcase the Vision, People and the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra. The objectives of Zimbabwe’s participation at Expo 2020 are as follows: to promote Zimbabwe’s engagement, re-engagement and image building agenda and unpack the country’s Vision 2030; to promote investment opportunities in Zimbabwe and attract investors in various sectors including mining, agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure development; to promote trade opportunities for Zimbabwe and seek export markets for agriculture (notably horticulture) and mineral commodities, and other manufactured products in the Middle East; to showcase Zimbabwe’s rich cultural heritage and tourist attractions to the UAE, Middle East and the rest of the world; and to promote the country as a safe tourist destination.
In terms of progress made to date, it is advised that the country’s stand has been designed and Expo organisers are in the process of fitting the pavilion. Government wishes to highlight that the National Day for Zimbabwe at Expo 2020 Dubai will be March 14, 2022 and that His Excellency the President is expected to officiate at the event. Meanwhile, the mobilisation of companies in various niche areas to participate continues. Going forward, the nation will be advised of developments in preparations for the Expo through frequent updates.
In the meantime, Cabinet agreed to set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee which includes private-sector representatives to accelerate preparations for the country’s participation. The Committee comprises the following members:
1) Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Affairs (Chair)
2) Minister of Industry and Commerce
3) Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement
4) Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development
5) Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation
6) Minister of Mines and Mining Development
7) Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry
8) Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage
9) Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development
10) Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services
11) Minister Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services
12) Minister of Finance and Economic Development
Cabinet also appreciates that the Expo is important for re-engagement, expanding exports market, as well as developing the local market. In that connection, Government takes this opportunity to advise that it has export development tax incentives in place for export-oriented initiatives, in particular a lucrative tax rebate for exports.
6.0 RATIFICATION OF THE AFRICAN MEDICINE AGENCY TREATY
Cabinet considered and adopted the proposal for Zimbabwe to Ratify the African Medicines Agency (AMA) Treaty, which was presented by the Vice President and Minister and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable C.G.D.N. Chiwenga.
The African Medicines Agency Treaty was adopted by African Heads of State and Government during the 32nd Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly held on 11 February, 2019, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Zimbabwe signed the Treaty on 16 March, 2021, which requires ratification by 15 AU member States to enter into force. The objectives of the African Medicines Agency include the following:
1. To provide opportunity for assessing special classes of medicines, active pharmaceuticals ingredients (APIs) and products that are currently not regulated in many African countries;
2. To address the major problem that African Governments face of substandard and falsified medical products;
3. To work closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the evaluation and oversight of the use of medical counter measures for public health emergencies; and
4. To compel a continent-wide alignment of regulatory technical requirements and standards.
The African Medicines Agency will provide a platform to enhance Zimbabwe’s pharmaceutical’s industry since it supports the drive to support local pharmaceutical production, in consonance with the National Development Strategy 1. The Agency will also provide assistance and resources to State Parties as well as support for the improvement of the production of medical products and technology.
7.0 UPDATE ON THE PREPARATIONS FOR THE 2022 ZIMBABWE NATIONAL POPULATION CENSUS
Cabinet received an Update on the Preparations for the 2022 Zimbabwe National Population Census from the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Honourable Professor M. Ncube. The Census is a Constitutional requirement for the delimitation of constituency boundaries by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
Government assures the nation that, in spite of preparations for the exercise having been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country remains on course to conduct the Census within the prescribed timeframe for the 2023 Elections. The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works is expected to conclude the boundary proclamations for Wards, Districts and Provinces in order to ensure that enumeration areas are correctly assigned.
Thereafter, the Census Field Mapping Exercise can be finalised before actual enumeration proceeds. Census field mapping involves subdividing the whole country into smaller geographical units called enumeration areas with an average of 80 to 120 households. Cabinet is pleased to report that 55% of the country has so far been successfully mapped, despite up to 10 months of programmed time having been lost to COVID-19 restrictions.
For the first time in the history of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (ZIMSTAT) will go paperless during census enumeration since the Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) technique will be employed during data collection.
Given that this is the first time Zimbabwe will use the paperless CAPI technique, more than one pilot census will be run to test the technology, with re-tests being conducted. This will last up to the first quarter of 2022. The actual population census will therefore start in April 2022, with the Census results expected in August 2022, paving way for the Constituencies Delimitation in October 2022 (31 December 2022 being the last day allowed for delimitation).
8.0 ELIMINATION OF CONGESTION AND INSTALLATION OF PROPER LIGHTING IN COUNTRY’S URBAN AREAS
Cabinet considered and approved measures for the elimination of congestion and installation of proper lighting in country’s urban areas as presented by the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, as the Chairperson of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Elimination of Congestion and Installation of Proper Lighting in the Country’s Urban Areas.
As you might recall Cabinet, at its sitting of 11 May 2021, resolved to take deliberate measures to decongest urban centres in the wake of the obtaining traffic chaos, particularly in Harare and its environs. The nation is advised that whilst the programme will be rolled out countrywide, top on the priority list is Harare Metropolitan Province as it is the worst affected in this regard. To this end, the Inter-Ministerial Committee has drawn up proposed short-term measures to be undertaken to redress the situation.
On infrastructure, Cabinet was advised that local authorities remained responsible for the provision of street lights. Traffic lights at the following junctions, will be repaired within one month:-
Samora Machel/Enterprise; Seke/Dieppe; Glenara/Chiremba; Simon Mazorodze/Paisely; Rotten Row/Jason Moyo; Julius Nyerere/Kenneth Kaunda; Borrowdale/Harare Drive; and Harare/ E.D. Mnangagwa.
New traffic control measures will be implemented at identified junctions to alleviate congestion. On traffic control infrastructure, Cabinet was informed that dedicated bus lanes to ensure preferential treatment of buses, clear carriageway markings for roads and parking bays, erection of no stopping and no u-turn signs, stop signs, give way signs and load restrictions will be marked at appropriate places; and construction of non-mountable kerbing/ jersey barriers would be made at junctions and other critical areas to avoid u-turns or driving over islands.
The roads would be repaired at identified junctions. The roads would be widened to allow at least 2 lanes in one direction.
The nation is informed that there would be modification of identified roundabouts. Mbudzi Roundabout is one of the most chaotic roundabouts in the country where immediate decisive action needs to be taken. It is reported that while the plan is to construct the junction once rehabilitation of Harare-Beitbridge road has been completed, the emergency works will be undertaken to tie in with the overall plan. In this regard, it was agreed that Treasury avails funding. Councils are also encouraged to ensure that termini facilities are spruced up so that they are not shunned by both transporters and commuters.
On enhanced public transport logistics, Cabinet resolved to support the urgent procurement or hire of an additional 667 buses to enable ZUPCO to provide a more efficient service to all high density suburbs.
ZUPCO is going to revive traditional bus routes, using designated bus stops, adhering to the stipulated bus time table, and improving the electronic payment system.
Furthermore, there will be repair of non-functioning traffic management signals, deployment of traffic management system at Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Command Centre; generation of number plates, smart transport solution with cameras will be rolled out in June, and implementation of the tracking system on ZUPCO franchise buses.
Cabinet resolved that in order to enhance public transport service provided through ZUPCO the Municipal Traffic Police and the Zimbabwe Republic Police will carry out enforcement programmes targeted at removing pirate taxis (mishikashika) operating in the Harare Central Business District.
Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Municipal Police will be resourced to enable ZRP to implement traffic enforcement programmes effectively.
There will be joint operations between Municipal Traffic Police and ZRP at the intersection. Municipal Traffic Police will also be trained on how they will operate in the controlling of traffic. Furthermore, impound yards would be established at strategic places along major routes and trading at all Traffic Intersections and along Road Servitudes will be criminalised.
I THANK YOU