1.0 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 Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Honourable M. Mutsvangwa, representing the Chairperson of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the COVID-19 Outbreak.
As at 21 June, 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 41 449, with 37 184 recoveries and 1 672 deaths. The recovery rate stands at 89.7%, with 95.6% of COVID-19 positive cases being attributable to local transmission. The number of active cases stands at 2 923.
Cabinet noted, with concern that the surge reported the previous week continued, with a total of 1 239 cases recorded during the period under review, compared to 544 reported the previous week. This represents a 127% increase. The majority of cases were recorded in Hurungwe (364); Kariba(217); Chiredzi(185); and Makonde (51). Health authorities have designated these areas hotspots, and localized lockdowns have been declared in Hurungwe and Kariba. The surge is mostly attributable to the general complacency in adhering to the set COVID-19 preventive and precautionary measures both in the communities and at workplaces.
The following measures are being implemented to lower the Case Fatality Rate;
1. strengthening of critical care in admitting facilities (HDU/ICU);
2. ensuring oxygen availability in admitting centres;
3. ensuring availability of critical care equipment; and
4. cascading critical care training.
Furthermore, measures are being put in place to guarantee the availability of essential services through Telemedicine, intergrated outreach, and equipping existing treatment centres with monitoring equipment, medications and PPEs. In addition, Cabinet agreed that Home Based Care will be strengthened by accelerating the introduction of the concept of a Virtual Hospital (Home Based Care).
Following the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, Cabinet has directed the Vehicle Inspection Department (V.I.D) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and other stakeholders to increase surveillance to enforce compliance with COVID-19 regulations for ZUPCO intercity and intra-urban services.
The nation is advised that as a result of the current surge, the Risk Communication and Information Subcommittee’s subnational structures have increased awareness campaigns across the country, focusing on the most affected areas, which include Kariba, Hurungwe and Kwekwe. A manual with key messages has been developed and has been circulated across traditional media and social media platforms. ZBC/TV and radio stations have increased COVID-19 programming. Furthermore, the Subcommittee is ramping its activities to encourage people to seek medical attention early.
Cabinet further approved the localized lockdown in the following hotspot areas : – in Mashonaland, West Karoi, Makonde, Chinhoyi, Mhangura, Chidamwoyo, Magunje, Chirundu; in Bulawayo Nkulumane Emakhandeni and Northern Surburbs; in Mashonaland Central Mount Darwin and in Masvingo, Chiredzi. The nation is informed that there would be a joint security blitz to enforce the recently promulgated COVID-19 prevention and control measures, especially in the designated hot spots. Furthermore, border security and surveillance at ports of entry is being strengthened.
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, apprised Cabinet on the progress made in the procurement and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.
The nation is informed that as at 20th June, 2021, a total of 704 001 people had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 436 851 their second dose across the country.
Cabinet noted with concern that following the localized lockdown of Kariba, Makonde and Hurungwe districts the situation has hardly improved. Kariba District had 12 confirmed cases on the 7th of June, 2021, and as of the 20th of June 2021, it had 312 confirmed cases and two deaths had been reported. Hurungwe District recorded 9 cases on the 7th of June 2021 and as of the 20th of June, 2021 had recorded a cumulative total of 634 confirmed cases and 10 deaths. Makonde District recorded two (2) confirmed cases on the 7th of June 2021 and as of 20th June 2021 had recorded a cumulative total of 91 confirmed cases and five (5) deaths.
Kwekwe Town has been under localized lockdown as from 9th of May 2021 following a surge in COVID-19 positive cases. The cumulative totals as from 9th May, 2021 to the 20th of June, 2021 are 160 confirmed cases, 72 recoveries and seven (7) deaths. There is going to be an urgent review of operations of the Polytechnic, markets, public transport and street vending in the city as their operations could be super spreaders and thus should be scaled down. Cabinet has agreed that the lockdown in Kwekwe be extended.
In view of the regional and local upsurge of cases, the nation is informed that Cabinet approved that the reopening of schools and other learning institutions be delayed by 14 days. Government will be monitoring the situation and a review would be made after two weeks.
On procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, Cabinet is pleased to report that arrangements are currently in progress to procure 2 million doses of vaccines from China. These are expected in the country by end of month. Furthermore, 500 000 doses of vaccines are expected to be delivered this Saturday, 26th June, 2021.
The nation is advised that the next priority areas of vaccination are the remaining border posts, especially Forbes, Chirundu and Kariba, current hotspots, tobacco auction floors and people’s markets such as Renkini in Bulawayo, Mbare Musika in Harare and Sakubva Musika in Mutare. The Grain Marketing Board staff and COTTCO staff as well as the Hwange population will also be included in the vaccination programme.
3.0 UPDATE ON THE 2021 WINTER WHEAT PRODUCTION AND AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SEASON
The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Honourable Dr Anxious Masuka, updated Cabinet on the status of the 2021 Winter Wheat Production Season and Developments in the Agricultural Marketing Season.
Regarding the winter wheat production season, Cabinet wishes to highlight that a total of 61 801 hectares have so far been planted, a 53% increase from the area planted during the comparative 2020 period. A total of 4 467.9 hectares have been planted under the Presidential Wheat Scheme, while the Command/CBZ Agro-yield Scheme has planted 41 935.7 hectares this year, an increase of 25% from the 33 603 hectares planted last year. The Private Sector has contracted 15 397.76 hectares, 3% above the targeted 15 000 hectares.
Meanwhile, as of yesterday (21st June, 2021), total maize delivered to Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots across the country stood at 240 204 metric tonnes, significantly up from the 63 916 metric tonnes received at the same time last year. The quantity of soyabean has similarly increased to 9 858 metric tonnes, versus the 956 metric tonnes delivered at the same time last year. The traditional grain tonnage delivered has recorded a phenomenal increase to 21 844 metric tonnes from the 1 646 metric tonnes delivered during the 2020 comparative period. Government takes this opportunity to call upon farmers to continue delivering their grain to GMB depots as timeous payments are guaranteed.
The Tobacco Marketing Season has also recorded good results, with a total of over 152.8 million kilograms having been sold to realize more than US$415.8 million, compared to the 124.5 million kilograms sold for US$296.9 million in 2020. The country’s average prices at US$2.72 per kg remain firmer than those prevailing in the region. On cotton, it is advised that 145 000 metric tonnes are expected to be delivered from the established 287 107 hectares during the current marketing season.
4.0 PRINCIPLES FOR THE AMENDMENT OF SECTION 124 OF THE HEALTH PROFESSIONS ACT [CHAPTER 27:19]
Cabinet considered and approved the Principles for the Amendment of 124 of the Health Professions Act [Chapter 27:19], which were presented by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable C.G.D.N. Chiwenga.
Basically, the amendment will repeal the entire section 124 (2) (a) of the Health Professions Act with a view to opening up and encouraging investment in the pharmaceuticals industry. Safeguards against practice by unregistered pharmacists are adequately provided for by section 124 sub-section 1 of the Act, to which practitioners and ventures in the industry must adhere to.
5.0 CONSOLIDATED REPORT BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE ENHANCED COMMITTEE ON EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AND DISASTER MANAGEMENT
The Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable C.G.D.N. Chiwenga, as Chairman of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management, presented the Committee’s Sixth Consolidated Report covering the following areas:
(1) Identification and Quantification of All Irregular and Dysfunctional Settlements, Including in Flood-Prone Areas;
(2) the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2;
(3) the Production of a National Wetlands Masterplan and Proposal on the Way Forward for Development of the Policy; and
(4) the Streamlining of the Operations of Housing Co-operatives.
Cabinet is pleased to announce that the National Wetlands Master Plan was completed on time and will inform the development of the National Wetlands Policy. The inventory of Zimbabwe’s wetlands together with the accompanying maps is now available in hardcopy and electronic format. The Master Plan is comprehensive and is made up of the following:
(a) the Zimbabwe National Wetlands Map;
(b) 10 Provincial Wetlands Maps;
(c) 63 District Wetlands Maps;
(d) Field Wetlands Maps;
(e) the National Wetlands Geo-database; and
(f) the National Wetlands Interactive GIS Webmap.
The wetlands interactive GIS webmap provides an interactive platform for wetlands visualization to the general public, and the mobile application can be accessed online.
Regarding the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2 (ERRP 2), Government wishes to advise that implementation of the Programme is work in progress, with some notable achievements having been recorded. The works being carried out on the roads, which were declared a state of emergency, fall into the following categories: rehabilitation and construction; reseals; re-gravelling; spot re-gravelling; grading; drainage structures repair and construction; wash-away and gulley reclamation; erosion works and drains; verge clearing; and pothole patching.
Highlights include the following: that 7 515 km out of the targeted 13 313 km of road network have been pothole patched, while 4 115 km have been graded, 874 km re-gravelled and 164 km rehabilitated or constructed. In Manicaland, the surfacing of 15.5 km of the Kopa-Jopa Road has been completed, while surfacing of the remaining 10km on the Marange-Zvipiripiri Road is expected to be completed by 30 June, 2021. In Mashonaland East, construction of the Monte Cassino Bridge was completed and awaits commissioning. In Bulawayo, the City Council completed the asphalt overlay over Fife Street, while in Matabeleland North Province 33 km of the Hwange- St. Mary’s-Luseche Road was re-gravelled by the District Development Fund (DDF) and 6 km was surfaced. In Masvingo the rehabilitation of 14 km, putting up of road signs and carriageway markings as well as drainage and vegetation control has been completed on more than 7 km of the Chivi-Mhandamabwe Road.
In Mashonaland West Province, the DDF has so far surfaced 10 km of the Karoi-Binga Road from Chivakanenyama Secondary School to Zvipani Rural Business Centre. In the Midlands, pothole patching, vegetation clearing and opening of drains along the entire 83 km Gweru-Mvuma Road is almost complete. In Mashonaland Central, 20km of the Bindura-Matepatepa Mount Darwin Road has been graveled and 11km surfaced, while in Matabeleland South, more than half of the Masholomoshe-Umzingwane Road was graded. In Harare, the total rehabilitation of Boshoff Drive and Kelvin Road South was completed by CMED.
Pertaining to the Identification and Quantification of all Irregular and Dysfunctional Settlements Including in Flood Prone Areas, Cabinet was advised that the number of families in wetlands/dysfunctional/irregular settlements remains at 31 257, with verification still ongoing. Provision of relief to distressed households at Budiriro Hall Holding Camp is underway. Evacuation centres for housing distressed families are being developed before the onset of the 2021/2022 rainfall season. Meanwhile, Government will provide on-site and off-site infrastructure on Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle Schemes which lack the services.
The nation is informed that stalled projects such as Lupane Composite Office, Siakobvu Composite Office block, Hwedza Composite Office block and Mutoko Composite Office block, will now be implemented under the Enhanced Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management in order to speed up implementation. On the regularisation and deregistration of errant housing cooperatives, it is advised that the inspection of cooperatives is ongoing, with 5 provinces having been covered so far.
6.0 STATE PARTY REPORT UNDER THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
Cabinet considered and approved the State Party report under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) as presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Honourable Z. Ziyambi.
The Report highlights the developments that have taken place in Zimbabwe after the 4th Review in 1998, covering all issues that pertain to racial discrimination. The Report presents advancements made and measures undertaken to harmonise national laws, policies and programs with the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and progress made in achieving full enjoyment of the rights set out in the Convention.
The Report further reflects domestic laws that have been aligned to the Constitution and promulgated to advance the rights of everyone in Zimbabwe.
The nation is advised that Zimbabwe has taken great strides in eliminating all forms of racial discrimination as evidenced by the raft of measures contained in this Report. Racial discrimination can never be condoned and the country is committed to adhere to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
7.0 UPDATE ON POWER SUPPLY ENHANCEMENT PROJECTS COMING ON BOARD IN 2021
Cabinet received the weekly report on The Country’s Power Supply Situation, which was presented by the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Honourable Zhemu Soda.
Government would like to assure the citizenry that it is expending all efforts to ensure adequate power supplies throughout the country, with some power deficit mitigation projects set to come on stream before year end.
Cabinet advises that one thermal power project and ten renewable energy projects will come on board this year. The thermal power project will add 50 megawatts to the national grid, while the renewable energy projects will provide about 100 megawatts, translating to a combined total of about 150 megawatts being realized from the projects.
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