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 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 7 June, 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 39 238, with 36 746 recoveries and 1 611 deaths. The recovery rate stands at 94%, with 96.2% of COVID-19 positive cases being attributable to local transmission. The number of active cases stands at 881.
Under case management, the nation is advised that the Ministry of Health and Child Care continues to work tirelessly in managing cases of COVID-19 detected in different parts of the country, including in colleges and schools. The management of the outbreak at Bondolfi Teachers College and adjacent areas continued throughout the week. In a related development, a total of 27 new cases have been confirmed from 56 residents tested at Maryward Children’s Home and Secondary School in Kwekwe District. Cabinet was informed that the cumulative number of COVID-19 positive cases detected through school surveillance during the First Term of 2021 stands at 868, of which 808 have recovered. There are 57 active cases still under management.
The nation is informed that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has banned the use of schools for holiday lessons during the three week break that commenced on 4th June 2021. It is envisaged that the ban will allow thorough cleaning and disinfection of the school environment and this reduces the spread of COVID-19. Learning will continue through alternative platforms, including self-study guides that will facilitate learners to continue their school work at their homes. Meanwhile, the training of staff on COVID-19 prevention will continue during this break.
The nation is advised that COVID-19 is still with us and that we are not out of the woods, hence the need to continue to observe the COVID-19 stipulated guidelines.
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 progress made in the procurement and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.
As of 7th June, 2021, a total of 688 696 people had received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines and 385 275 their second dose across the country. The public is advised that efforts to ensure the availability of doses continue as a matter of priority. The Ministry of Health and Child Care is redistributing existing stocks to ensure availability of the second dose. A batch of 500 000 doses of vaccine is expected in the country by 15th June, 2021.
The nation is informed that Cabinet has approved that the lockdown in Kwekwe be extended by a further two weeks. The development comes in the wake of a surge in positive cases in Kwekwe, which to date has 74 cumulative cases, 70 active cases, 3 recoveries and 1 death. It is highlighted that the Indian Variant has been detected in some of the new cases.
The nation is advised that at Embakwe High School, in Mangwe District, Matabeleland South Province, a total of 4 teachers tested positive, out of the 25 staff members tested. All the 400 students at the school tested negative. A decision was made by the Ministry of Health and Child Care to invoke the Public Health Act, to quarantine students and staff at the school.
Cabinet was informed that St Annes Hospital has reopened to the public for treatment and management of general medical and surgical conditions. It is noted that the hospital had closed for repairs and maintenance in February 2016, only to reopen in August 2020 offering treatment and care services for COVID-19 patients only.
3.0 ZIMBABWE’S SECOND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS VOLUNTARY NATIONAL REVIEW REPORT
Cabinet considered the country’s Second Voluntary National Review (VNR) on the implementation of the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development in Zimbabwe as presented by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
Cabinet was informed that the Second Voluntary National Review is a presentation of the progress that the country has made since the adoption of the SDGs. It is highlighted that Voluntary National Reviews report on the status of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, is composed of the 17 SDGs and their 169 targets and 232 indicators underpinned by the core principles of leaving no-one behind. The Zimbabwe 2021 Voluntary National Review is thus aimed at providing an opportunity for Zimbabwe to showcase and share its progress and experiences in the implementation of the Agenda 2030 with other countries at global level against the backdrop of limited international support.
SDGs under review for 2021 are goals 1 on no poverty, 2 on zero hunger, 3 on good health and well-being, 8 on decent work and economic growth, 10 on reduced inequalities, 12 on responsible consumption and production, 13 on climate action, 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, and 17 on partnerships. Also Progress has been recorded in reducing all forms of violence and related deaths. This has been achieved through alignment of laws to the Constitution, improved inclusive access to justice and creation of new laws that promote human rights. The public is advised that improved agricultural production and productivity is addressing Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 5 and 8 through increased agricultural output, incomes, participation of women and throughout from agriculture to agro-processing industries.
Furthermore, progress has been made towards Universal health coverage through sustained investment in public health infrastructure, equipment, capacitation of human resources for health, procurement and distribution of medicines and sundries as well as development and review of health related legal and policy frameworks. This has resulted in reduced maternal mortality ratio, reduced under five mortality and the general decline in HIV prevalence. In the education sector there has been increased access through inclusive programmes infrastructure, human skills capital development and innovation. Gender has been mainstreamed in most of the country’s legislative frameworks, policies and empowerment programmes which has resulted in increased participation in politics and decision making as well as access to productive and financial resources by women.
Cabinet reports that the 2021 High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development will be held from 6 to 15 July 2021. The theme of the 2021 Forum is “Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development; building an inclusive and effective path for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”. The 2021 High Level Political Forum will be held virtually, while sit-in meetings might be allowed for the three-days’ Ministerial Segment of the Forum.
4.0 UPDATE ON THE 2021 WINTER WHEAT AND BARLEY PLANTING AND SUMMER CROPS MARKETING SEASON
Cabinet considered and approved a Progress Report on the 2021 Winter Wheat and Barley Planting and Summer Crops Marketing Season, which was presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Honourable Dr Anxious Masuka.
A total of 92 000 hectares, comprising 85 000 hectares for wheat and 7 000 hectares for barley, was targeted for planting this winter season under the following programmes: Presidential Wheat Scheme (10 000 hectares’ wheat), Command/CBZ Agro-Yield (10 000 hectares’ wheat), the Private Sector (15 000 hectares’ wheat) and Delta (7 000 hectares’ barley). It is advised that 9 796 hectares have been identified under the Presidential Wheat Scheme as at 3 June 2021, while a total of 65 623 hectares (1 361 farmers) has been contracted under the Command/CBZ Agro-Yield Programme.
Government advises that as at 5 June 2021, a total of 47 519 hectares had been planted to wheat, more than double the area planted at the same time last year. The planting deadline has been extended to 15 June 2021 from 10 June and the seeding rate increased from 125 to 150kg/hectare. It is estimated that with this extension, 70 000 to 75 000 hectares of wheat will be planted, translating to an estimated total production of 315 000 to 337 500 metric tonnes.
Regarding the marketing of grain, Government is pleased to report that deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board are generally firm, with 88 307 metric tonnes of maize, 7 534 metric tonnes of soyabeans, 7 523 metric tonnes of traditional grains, 215 metric tonnes of premium grade wheat and 367 metric tonnes of ordinary grade wheat having been received as at 5 June 2021. Total grain received as at 6 June 2021 is 130 000 metric tonnes. Similarly, daily tobacco sales volumes are very high, with a total of 135 477 886 kilogrammes valued at US$366 535 787 having been traded as at 3 June, 2021. At the same time last year, 104 629 191 kilogrammes worth US$245 555 772 had been sold. About 43% of tobacco sales were through the decentralised selling points, while 93% of the tobacco has been sold under contract.
Meanwhile, the 2021 Cotton Marketing Season commenced on 18 May 2021 with a producer price of ZW$85/kg for seed cotton delivered to Cottco.
A price subsidy will be availed to Cottco only, for the Presidential Input Scheme, with part of the payment being in foreign currency at a rate of USD10 per bale. Deliveries across the provinces as at 3 June 2021 are as follows:
Mashonaland Central, 560.2 metric tonnes;
Mashonaland East, 360 metric tonnes;
Manicaland, 764 metric tonnes;
Masvingo, 5 808.6 metric tonnes;
Mashonaland West, 6 256.4 metric tonnes; and
Midlands, 2 912.2 metric tonnes.
5.0 REPORT ON THE LAUNCH OF THE WORLD BANK DIGITAL ECONOMY FOR ZIMBABWE, COUNTRY DIAGNOSTIC REPORT
The Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Honourable Dr J. Muswere, presented the World Bank Digital Economy for Zimbabwe Country Diagnostic Report.
Cabinet was advised that the World Bank launched the Digital Economy for Africa Diagnostic Survey in 2018 to assist African countries to assess the stage they are at in building and running a digital economy. In Zimbabwe, the Survey gathered data from stakeholders across all social and economic sectors from 2018 to 2019, with a draft report having been presented for feedback in 2020 and the Final Report completed in 2021. This Digital Economy for Africa Zimbabwe Diagnostic Report was then launched by way of a virtual presentation to Senior Government Officials and other stakeholders by the World Bank Team on 27 May, 2021.
The Diagnostic Report assesses Zimbabwe’s current position relative to other countries across the world, with the most advanced countries being categorized in the “Advanced Stage” and the least developed being classified “Nascent Stage”. Highlights of the findings include that Zimbabwe is quite advanced in the Digital Financial Services pillar, mainly due to the ubiquitous use of mobile money and online banking services. Digital Infrastructure was considered to be fairly advanced in terms of international connectivity but still lacking in internal connectivity, particularly in rural areas.
On the other hand, while the country has very high general literacy, specialized Digital Skills were deemed to be lagging behind technology. Digital Government Platforms were considered to be improving rapidly even though lack of funding in previous years has meant that there is still large scope for further improvement. Finally, Digital Enterpreneurship was assessed to be in its early stages and in need of greater funding for start-ups as well as for development of links between innovation centres and businesses in order to enable commercialization of inventions.
Cabinet notes that Zimbabwe has made remarkable progress since the Digital Economy for Africa Diagnostic Survey was conducted in 2018 to 2019. Government acknowledges that the Report will assist in improving the country’s methodologies for defining the digital economy ideas, especially the metrics for measuring progress in the implementation of NDS1 and definition of the relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The Digital Economy Thematic Working Group of the NDS 1 will therefore review and update the World Bank Digital Survey given the long period that has lapsed since collection of the data used.
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