By Information Minister Mutsvangwa
1.0 NATIONAL E-LEARNING STRATEGY FOR SCHOOLS IN ZIMBABWE
Cabinet considered and approved the National e-Learning Strategy for Schools in Zimbabwe: 2021 – 2025, which was presented by the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Innovation, Technology Development and Application.
The National e-Learning Strategy for Schools in Zimbabwe is a joint initiative of the Ministries of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services; and Primary and Secondary Education.
It is part of the SMART Zimbabwe 2030 Masterplan, which is programme 15 of the Cabinet approved Government Priority Programmes on Innovation, Science and Technology Development: 2019-2030.
The Plan is also aligned to Programme 6 (ICT Infrastructure to Support Teaching and Learning) of the Government Priority Programme on Human Capital Development, Skills Audit and Employment Creation, also approved by Cabinet.
SMART Education is one component of SMART Zimbabwe, which seeks to increase the usage of ICT in the entire education sector regardless of geographical location of economic circumstances.
Digital learning complements the traditional classroom learning by improving access to content, and helps to standardize learning.
A number of schools have already benefitted throughout the country’s ten provinces through the national model lab per school programme launched by Government.
Under the programme, each school is expected to be equipped with a computer lab comprising 41 networked computers, a server, a projector, a printer, a white board and connectivity.
Cabinet informs the nation that the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) will continue to provide gadgets to schools, particularly in the rural areas, under the Connect a School-Connect a Community Programme formulated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
TelOne, NetOne and Zimbabwe Academic and Research Network (ZARNET) will also be capacitated to play their part in providing connectivity on schools and tertiary institutions.
The success of the online Learning initiative for rural communities will be premised on (a) the expansion and upgrading of the broadband infrastructure; (b) the acquisition of standardized gadgets for schools; (c) the development and delivery of content: (d) a federated content hosting approach to optimize and cut down on the cost of access; (e) the importing of basic digital skills to educators (capacity building) and (f) the availability of resources for the roll-out of the programme.
The National Broadcaster will provide dedicated radio and television channels for e-Learning purposes.
On the other hand, ZARNET will expedite its project to provide an optic fibre strand for the education sector. The National ICT Device factory in Msasa, with capacity to manufacture 150 000 units per annum, will be capacitated for the assembling of the requisite devices for e-learning.
The 2021 National e-Learning Programme has the following targets: connection of 1 500 schools to the broadband; electrification of 434 schools; manufacture of up to 150 000 devices as per order by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education; development of mobile applications for use on the existing e-Learning management system within 45 days; e-Learning content development by instructional designers which should be in place by June 2021; capacitation of 3 000 teachers with basic digital skills by December 2021; and delivery of e-Learning through audios, videos and text (multimedia) interactive materials.
2.0 UPDATE ON ZIMBABWE’S REASPONSE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK
Cabinet received a report on Zimbabwe’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 5 March 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 36 248, with 33 632 recoveries and 1 484 deaths. The recovery rate is currently at 93%, with 34 547 of the positive COVID-19 cases attributable to local transmission.
Active cases now stand at 1 005. Positivity continues to decline in response to national efforts to contain infection from the virus.
In the recent past, the Ministry of Health and Child Care, in conjunction with the Ministries of Primary and Secondary Education; and Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, has been working on refining infection prevention and control mechanisms in preparation for the commencement of the 2021 school calendar year on 15 March for examination classes and 22 March for the rest of the learners.
Preparations are well on course, including provision of water and sanitation facilities for the opening of schools and colleges.
Cabinet would like to inform the nation that the programme for the removal of children living and working in the streets is ongoing. In view of extra vaccination capacity, Cabinet has resolved that those in Phase 2 of the National Vaccination Plan can start getting their vaccines.
Cabinet notes with great concern the increased number of people miling around the Central Business Districts and other public places, often without regard to masking and social distancing.
The law enforcement agencies are in full force to enforce the WHO protocol and national guidelines which remain mandatory.
Cabinet wishes to report that the opening of some public places attracting multitudes, such as casinos will be deferred until the consequences of the recent relaxation of lockdown measures have been fully assessed.
4.0 ZIMBABWE VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT COMMITTEE (ZimVAC) 2020 URBAN LIVELIHOODS ASSESSMENT REPORT
Cabinet considered and noted the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) 2020 Urban Livelihoods Assessment Report, which was presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, on behalf of the Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition.
The purpose of the assessment was to provide an annual update on livelihoods in Zimbabwe’s urban areas for the purpose of informing policy formulation and the programming of appropriate interventions.
The ZimVAC Urban Livelihoods Assessment Report was based on a comprehensive review and analysis of relevant data collected from 9 474 urban households from 38 reporting domains made up of cities, towns, service centres and growth points.
The areas of focus of the assessment included Education, Social Protection, Chronic Illness, Crop and Livestock Production, Income and Expenditure, Consumption Patterns, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Children and Women nutrition, Food Security, Housing, Shocks and Hazards, and Impact of COVID-19 on Livelihoods.
The ZimVAC consists of the following membership: Government Ministries and Agencies, Civic Society Organisations and multilateral partners e.g. the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that Government has been actively responding to the prevailing food and nutrition insecurity among urban livelihoods, with at least 42 percent of urban households having received some form of support in 2020.
Government will continue to mobilize more resources to support the vulnerable as well as upscale emergency support and resilience building efforts. Government will also continue to implement the urban cash-for-cereal system, in view of the need to continue cushioning the vulnerable.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Health and Child Care is working on modalities to support chronic illness medication so that it becomes accessible to the majority of the patients, including through the introduction of a Health Insurance Fund and possibilities of subsiding the same.
Since sanitation is one of the major indicators used to measure the attainment of an upper middle income economic status which Zimbabwe aspires for, Government and its partners will intensify efforts to mobilize resources to ensure that there are proper ablution facilities in urban areas.
Local authorities should also ensure that no people settle on urban dwellings which have no approved sanitation facilities. Government also wishes to report that substantial investment in water and sanitation services in all urban areas is being made.
The Government is also implementing a rural transformation programme as an enabler for the rural economy to attract urban-rural migration.
Government will deliberately and adequately fund the Zimbabwe Academic and Research Network (ZARNET) to provide affordable broadband network for research and online learning by students.
5.0 INITIATIVES TOWARDS ACHIEVEMENT OF THE US$12 BILLION MINING INDUSTRY BY 2023
Cabinet received an update on the initiatives towards a US$12 billion Mining Industry, which was presented by the Minister of Mines and Mining Development.
Cabinet was informed that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Tsingshan Steel for investment in mining projects towards the production of stainless steel. Production in the interim will commence with carbon steel.
Tsingshan, through its subsidiary Afrochine, constructed two additional ferrochrome furnaces in 2020, and will construct additional furnaces in May 2021.
The ground breaking ceremony for the iron ore mine and carbon steel plant is scheduled for May 2021 in Manhize, Mvuma. A fluorite and limestone production plant will soon be set up.
In order to ensure that mining title is not subject to abuse and used in environmental degradation, Cabinet directed as follows: (a) that submission of a current tax clearance certificate becomes a condition of renewal of all mining concessions; (b) that the Environmental Management Agency will undertake audits to ensure that contracted companies are performing their work to standard; (c) all expatriate labour should have the requisite work permits; (d) that an environmental compliance certificate is now a requirement for renewal of all mining concessions.
It was agreed that; (e) a certificate of production from MMCZ/Fidelity to be attached as proof of previous year production. It was agreed that a mechanism be established for certification of production sold locally where MMCZ is not involved.
Where no production was undertaken in the previous year, plans to get in to production should be outlined and in all cases 5-year production plans should be submitted.
Cabinet agreed to the formation of an Implementing Committee chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to implement the above.
Cabinet reviewed the ban on mining in rivers and directed that de-siltation activities in portions of Angwa, Save and Mutebekwi rivers can commence subject to the condition that no chemicals are utilized and the structures of the rivers are not affected.
Each de-siltation process shall have permanent presence of officials from the Ministries of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry; and Mines and Mining Development, with investor funding.
6.0 NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY MINISTERIAL FIVE-YEAR PLANS
Cabinet received and approved Ministerial Five-Year Plans compliant with the National Development Strategy 1: 2021 – 2025, which were presented by the respective portfolio Ministers.
HOME Affairs and Cultural Heritage
Cabinet was informed that the Mission Statement of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage is to promote a secure and peaceful environment through maintenance of law and order, combating corruption, managing migration, timely registration and issuance of secure identification documents, regulation of gaming and entertainment activities, and preservation of National Heritage and historic documents.
The Ministry’s deliverables during NDS 1 will include improving justice; enhancing social cohesion; promoting and safeguarding cultural and creative practices, goods and services; enhancement of civil registration and travel documentation, including decentralization to district level and automation.
The Ministry will improve crime management and introduce e-enabled border management systems.
Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
Cabinet was informed that the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs seeks to uphold, develop and provide accessible, efficient and effective service delivery.
The Ministry will ensure decentralization of legal aid services to districts, establish more courts in all provinces and strengthen district court stations, and undertake phased automation of judicial systems by establishing an integrated electronic case management system in courts.
The rehabilitation of offenders, the provision of vocational training centres to provinces, computerization of the Deeds and Companies Office will also form the core of the Ministry’s contribution to the National Development Strategy 1.
Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development
Cabinet also noted that the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development seeks to deliver a competitive, industrialized and modernized Zimbabwe through heritage based innovations.
The Ministry is targeting the following deliverables under NDS 1: (a) improved corporate governance in higher and tertiary education institutions; (b) improved access to quality and inclusive education; (c) improved availability of specialist skills for industry, commerce and the public sector; and (d) improved uptake in application of STEM-based disciplines.
Among its programmes, the Ministry will (a) amend University Acts and the Manpower Planning and Development Act, (b) ensure unqualified audits for its institutions, (c) operationalise the Second Science and Technology Policy; (d) revamp the Apprenticeship Training Programme, and (e) enhance the International Research Co-operation Programme. The Ministry will also set up at least ten Science Parks, Innovation Centres and Industrial Parks by 2023, and achieve the registration of at least 56 new Intellectual Property copyrights, patents, licences and trademarks by 2025.
The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development will set up the National Pathology Centre at the Midlands State University, set up specialist hospitals and the Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences, commercialise research results and operationalise the venture fund so that it generates start-up businesses.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines are being accorded high priority as the basis for the country’s industrialization.
The National Languages Institute is already in full swing at the Midlands State University, translating various materials into national languages. Cabinet will soon be conducting quarterly visits to innovation centres at universities.
Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
Under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Cabinet was informed that the Ministry seeks to accomplish internal and external macroeconomic stability characterized by lower and stable inflation, sustained economic growth, fiscal discipline and a sustainable current account balance. It is expected that the economy will grow at a steady rate of 5% per annum, to US$24 billion.
Annual inflation will decline to about 6% by 2025, from average levels of around 134% expected in 2021. The external debt will be tackled more effectively, while Treasury will support State Owned Enterprises reforms targeting privatization, de-mergers, outright disposals and amalgamations.
There will be special support for the productive sector strategic industries in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, transport, tourism and electricity generation. The timeous funding of decentralization and devolution programmes will be prioritised.
7.0 PROGRESS REPORT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RENEWABLE ENERGY POLICY
Cabinet received and approved the progress report on the implementation of the Renewable Energy Policy, which was presented by the Minister of Energy and Power Development.
Cabinet noted that the Renewable Energy Policy is being promoted through incentives which include: (a) duty exemption on solar equipment and other renewable energy equipment; (b) the granting of National Project Status on renewable energy projects; (c) tax holidays and (d) viability gap funding. By mid-2021, a standard Power Purchase Agreement and Government Support Implementation Agreement will be in place for the purpose of incentivizing investors to take up renewable energy projects.
Benefits to be realized through the expansion of renewable energy uptake include the electrification of rural schools, clinics and other social amenities that are currently not connected to the national grid.
Cabinet was informed that, going forward, the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, are discussing the proposed Government Support Implementation Agreement on currency convertibility, repatriation of dividends, and payment guarantees.
The Ministry is also working on the development of the National Integrated Energy Resource Plan which will determine the renewable energy targets for the coming 20 years.
Preliminary work has started on latest clean technologies such as electric vehicles.
While the e-learning programme will enable rural learners to catch up with their urban counterparts, local manufacturing of renewable energy gadgets is being promoted, and will create jobs for the citizenry.
The environment will be protected through the substitution of renewable energy for wood, especially in rural areas.
A programme for mapping the renewable energy potential for Zimbabwe will soon become available for reference with investors.
Construction of bio-digesters is underway across the country, while a number of sola projects are ongoing in various districts. Some private sector players are being engaged to supply power off-grid to communities with metering and tariffs being regulated by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority. Independent Power Producers who do not implement projects as agreed upon risk losing their licences.
8.0 MEMORANDUM BY THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ON THE PROPOSED DISTRIBUTION OF THE TRANSLATION OF THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY 1 (2021 – 2025) DOCUMENT INTO THE 14 NATIONAL LANGUAGES
At its 40th Meeting held on 16th November 2020, Cabinet approved the adoption of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1) (2021 – 2025) document as the blue print to guide the country’s developmental agenda for the next five years. His Excellency the President subsequently launched it on 18 December, 2020.
In pursuance of the undertaking by Government, to observe the provisions of Section 6 of the Constitution which entails the recognition of the official languages of Zimbabwe including sign language, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development through the Midlands State University, has to date translated the document into thirteen (13) out of the fourteen (14) national languages, namely:
Cabinet wishes to inform the public that the NDS 1 document is now available in 15 languages including the English version which is already in the public domain, and the Braille version which is part of the recent publications. DVDs on sign language are also available, essentially leaving no one behind in terms of access to information on NDS 1.
The different versions will be distributed to the public along the lines of the Constitution.
I thank you.