Nineteenth post-cabinet press briefing 15th June, 2021

  • 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 Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the COVID-19 Outbreak.

As at 14 June, 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at     40 077, with 37 027 recoveries and 1 635 deaths. The recovery rate stands at 92%, with 95.6% of COVID-19-positive cases being attributable to local transmission. The number of active cases stands at 1 415.

Government notes, with concern, that there was a surge in weekly cases from 226 during the week ending 6 June 2021, to 596 in week ending 14 June 2021. 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 workplaces. Reinforcement of the containment and preventive measures, encapsulated in the Extraordinary Government Gazette of 14th June 2021 (Statutory Instrument 170 of 2021), has thus been instituted to curb the spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths.   This will ultimately contain a third wave of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Cabinet further approved the localized lockdowns in hotsport areas, such as Kwekwe, Kariba and Hurungwe Districts. In addition, Zimbabwe’s neighbours are also experiencing dramatic surges in new COVID-19 cases and deaths. Members of the public are urged to exercise extreme caution when travelling in and out of Zimbabwe. They should strictly observe the relevant preventive measures and regulations, and avoid unnecessary travel.

Henceforth, the Public is being advised that the Police and other law enforcement agencies will increase roadblocks and patrols to ensure compliance with the recently announced COVID-19 containment measures; and that Health Inspectors will vigorously enforce laid down standard operating procedures for restaurants, retailers, public transporters and other commercial operators, including revoking operating licences where necessary.

  • 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.

The nation is advised that as of 13th June, 2021, a total of 693 568 people had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 414 635 their second dose across the country. Government is also pleased to announce that ALROSA, a Russian Diamond Company operating in Zimbabwe, donated 25 000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine on 9 June, 2021. The received vaccines are for the first dose only, with another 25 000 doses for the second dose expected by the end of the month.

  • ZIMBABWE VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT COMMITTEE (ZIMVAC) 2021 RURAL LIVELIHOODS ASSESSMENT REPORT 

Cabinet considered and approved the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) 2021 Rural Livelihoods Assessment Report as presented by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child, Honourable C.G.D.N. Chiwenga, as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition.

The nation is informed that the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) led by the Food and Nutrition Council (FNC) conducted the Annual Rural Livelihoods Assessment (ARLA) in May 2021. The 2021 ARLA was undertaken to inform planning for targeted interventions to help the vulnerable people, given the prevailing situation in the country as well as their long-term vulnerability context; and to monitor and to report on commitments within the guiding frameworks of existing national food and nutrition policies and strategies, among them the National Development Strategy (NDS1) 2021-2025, the Food and Nutrition Security Policy; and the Zero Hunger Strategy.

The research conducted revealed that financial constraints, age and adolescence pregnancy were some of the notable reasons why about 23% of the children were not in school. On social protection, Government is commended for maintaining consistency in its support of the vulnerable population. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has witnessed increased support from Treasury and, a reduction of assistance from the Development Partners. At least 54% of the households received support from Government, with Development Partners complementing these efforts by supporting 25% of the households.  The average household monthly income increased from USD 33 in 2020 to USD 75 in 2021.Generally, it is observed that there are a number of communities with irrigation schemes (27%) across the country.

The reduction in the prevalence of food insecurity from 56% the previous year to 27%this year is worth noting.  This reflects Government’s ability to reduce the problem by over 50% compared to the previous season, hence the right step towards achieving one of the country’s goals in the NDS1, particularly of ensuring a food surplus economy.  The 27% of rural households will translate into approximately 2 942 897 individuals requiring 262 856 MT of cereal (maize grain). A targeted movement of food from surplus areas to vulnerable areas will be undertaken since the country is generally expecting 828 263 MT cereal surplus according to the 2021 Second Round Crop Assessment Report.

The findings further revealed that a well-coordinated Government assistance programme to smallholder farmers buttressed by the ready availability of inputs on the market and normal to above normal rainfall in most parts of the country, resulted in the country’s 2021 maize and traditional grains production increasing by over 147.5% compared to the 2020 harvest. The Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme recorded a significant adoption rate, with   52% of households practising it and 56% of the sampled households having been trained within one year of its inception.

The nation is informed that tangible achievements have been registered in the following Programmes:- crop diversification; Access to Agriculture Extension Services and Agricultural Markets; Agriculture Modernisation/Adoption of Improved Livestock Practices; Access to Rural Finances; Access to Rural Infrastructure and Services; non-farm and on farm income sources; and social protection.

It is reported that BEAM supported 1.5 million learners out of the 4.5 million learners in school. BEAM’s coverage had been extended from tuition fees to include examination fees and stationery.  The Committee further highlights the need to provide sanitary wear to the girl child so as to reduce the drop outs of girls from school.

Cabinet noted that cattle and goats off-take remains suppressed in the smallholder farming sectors, and the majority of cattle and goats’ losses are due to diseases. Government will accelerate the setting up of irrigation schemes and ensure that communities have improved access to reliable sources of water for agricultural production.

In summary, the following are some of the highlights of the ZimVAC report:

  1. there is confidence in the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme;
  2. access to water is very high among the generality of Zimbabweans;
  3. there is no child labour being practised in the country;
  4. Government is the main source of support to vulnerable households;
  5. 84% of the communities did participate in agriculture during the summer season because of support rendered under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa Programme;
  6. there is more investment in the agriculture sector;
  7. there is a lot of construction happening in the rural areas;
  8. Nutrition has improved across the country;
  9. 99% of people have gone without experiencing food insufficiency; and
  10. 10.  the prevailing prices stability has improved access to basic commodities.

It is expected that some urban dwellers may experience food insufficiency for which Government is ready to provide the required support.  Development partners and Donor Agencies are encouraged to procure food from inside the country as imports will not be necessary.

The nation is informed that the ZimVAC 2021 Annual Rural Livelihoods Assessment Report will be publicized in all the sixteen official languages so that the nation is kept informed.

  • REPORT ON THE 7TH 100 DAY CYCLE OF THE SECOND REPUBLIC 

Cabinet considered and noted Reports on the 7th 100 Day Cycle of the Second Republic which were presented by the Ministers of Finance and Economic Development; Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage; Foreign Affairs and International Trade; and Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.

The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services reported that six priority projects were earmarked for implementation during the current cycle. These are as follows: Chimanimani Digital Terrestrial Television launch; Gokwe Digital Terrestrial Television launch; Nyangani Community Radio Station installation; Language-based Community Radio Stations licensing; Radio Zimbabwe studio installation; and National awareness audio-visual productions.

Cabinet was informed that site preparatory works for the Chimanimani Digital Terrestrial launch were completed and the launch thereof will be held at a later date. A pilot Digital Terrestrial Television service in Gokwe will be commissioned and launched. The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe is working with a target to install, commission and launch the Nyangani Community Radio station in Nyanga. Site survey was completed. Ninety-five percent of  the equipment purchased was shipped and  is now in Harare. Furthermore, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe is targeting to issue additional language-based Community Radio Station licences in an effort to improve access to information and the participation of local communities in information dissemination. The allotment plan has been gazetted.

The nation is advised that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation is  modernizing its old studios by revamping one of the Radio Zimbabwe Studios (Studio E) at Mbare Studios in Harare.

Regarding the National awareness audio-visual productions, Cabinet was informed that the target is to produce thirteen (13) “Zimbabwe in Motion” television programmes profiling the developmental work of Government Ministries. The project is aimed at raising awareness about the work, challenges and successes of Government among television viewers. The creative concept was approved, with four programmes having been completed to date and  are ready for airing on Zimbabwe Television (ZTV) anytime this month.

The Minister of Home Affairs Cultural Heritage reported that ZRP will construct one block of residential flats. The process of roofing was finished on 31 May 2021. The roof light and canopy processes were completed. The Immigration Department will construct two bachelor flats at Kazungula Border Post from 5% to 50%. The following works have been completed: site clearing and trenching; steel fixing; and substructure brick is also complete. The Ministry will also complete construction of  the Guruve District Registry Building. The contractor is now on site and works have commenced. The Old Bulawayo National Monument will be constructed to 60%. Already the access road to the monument was graded and is now passable. The Ministry will also complete 100% of Zvishavane community Archives. The preliminary survey is 100% complete and archival processing is at 60%. The Lotteries and Gaming Board seeks to complete 100% construction of Pupu Clinic in Matebeleland North Province. The slab has been completed and currently working on brick work to roof level.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development reported that the IPSAS Accounting Based Policy was finalized. Dates and timelines have been set to cascade to three (3)Ministries, three (3) Independent Commissions, eight (8) Local Authorities and two (2) State Owned Enterprises. In addition, the Development Cooperation Policy and Manual of Procedures was launched and disseminated to target groups. Regarding financial reengagement, the IMF Staff visits were concluded. Payments to the following institutions have been made:- World Bank, US$1 million; AfDB USD0.5 million and European Investment Bank (EIB) USD0.1 million. With regard to the Public Finance Management System (PFMS) strengthening, Cabinet was informed that the ZIMRA interface has been completed and user acceptance sign-off had been done furthermore, all kiosks in 63 Districts are operational. The nation is informed that the translation of the NDS1 into all 6 official languages, Braille, Sign Language and Audio has been completed. The NDS1 document was disseminated to 3 targeted provinces in Manicaland, Harare and Masvingo.

On budget implementation, the nation is advised that ZW$28.116 billion has been disbursed towards employment costs for April and May.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade apprised Cabinet on the implementation of priority projects under the 7th 100 Day Cycle. On enhanced organizational performance, Cabinet was informed that nominations for the Board of Directors to run the Foreign Service Institute are being received. Pertaining to image building, the nation is informed that the ratification process of three BIPPAs for Singapore, Mozambique and Botswana is now at the Public Agreements Advisory Committee stage. As part of its public diplomacy initiatives, the Ministry hosted an Interactive Editors Forum. Press statements have been issued wherever there were major events that have a direct bearing on the country’s foreign policy.  The Ministry has established two provincial protocol offices in Victoria Falls and Bulawayo to ensure visibility of the Ministry. Consular services have been offered to our nationals and foreigners.

Regarding enhancing cooperation with the international community, Cabinet was informed that His Excellency the President had attended two Extra-Ordinary SADC Double Troika Summits on 28 April and 27 May 2021 to discuss the security situation in Mozambique. The President had participated at the High Level Dialogue held under the theme: Feeding Africa: Leadership to Scale up Successful Innovations. Furthermore, His Excellency the President participated at the Leaders’ Dialogue on the Africa COVID-Climate Emergency to seek increased support towards COVID-19 respons., On economic recovery and humanitarian support, the Minister had undertaken a regional tour to South Africa, Botswana and Namibia and a number of meetings with Ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe were held.

Trade and Investment Promotion and diaspora engagement is the fourth project. A manual for Economic and Commercial Diplomacy is being developed. The Ministry has facilitated a number of inward and outward trade and investment missions. The country continues to negotiate under the Economic Partnership Agreements; while visibility initiatives have been undertaken to explain the AFCFTA agreement o the public and Zimbabwe’s position since commencement of trade on the 1st of January 2021. The nation is advised that there are plans to convene a Diaspora Conference at the margins of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair. Furthermore, Zim-Thrive has proposed a month-long Home-Coming Initiative.w 

5.0   PRINCIPLES FOR THE AMENDMENT OF SECTIONS 193 AND 246 OF THE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE AND EVIDENCE ACT 

Cabinet considered and approved the Principles for the Amendment of Sections 193 and 246 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act [Chapter 9:07], which were presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Honourable Ziyambi Ziyambi.

Cabinet wishes to inform the public that the amendment of Section 193 follows the High Court ruling which suspended the section for six months to allow for its amendment to provide for a Sign Language Interpreter in cases where the accused is deaf or mute. Accordingly, Section 193 will be repealed and substituted with a provision which states that “such accused person shall be granted bail in terms of Section 117 of the same Act which sets out the conditions for granting bails and the State shall provide a Sign Language Interpreter in such cases”. In essence, the section will now place the burden for providing the Interpreter on the State as well as making such provision mandatory. The amendment is also in line with Section 22(1) of the Constitution which provides that the State and all its institutions and agencies should recognize the rights of persons with disabilities.

Section 246 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act will be amended to reflect the proper terminology in tandem with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Constitution. This will be accomplished through removal of  the derogatory and offensive words or phrases “mental disorder, malady, idiocy”, and replacing them with “intellectual disability or mental disability”.

6.0   INITIATIVES TOWARDS ACHIEVEMENT OF A US$12 BILLION MINING INDUSTRY BY 2023: BRAVURA GOLD INITIATIVE; AND THE CBM INITIATIVE 

The Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Honourable Winston Chitando, presented the following proposed agreements to unlock value in the mining sector:

  1. Gold Mining Concession between the Republic of Zimbabwe and Bravura Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd; and
  2. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Republic of Zimbabwe and Jacqueline Resources (Pvt) Ltd concerning the exploration and development of Coal Bed Methane (CBM) Fields.

Cabinet approved both agreements which are part of the country’s Initiatives towards Achievement of a US$12 Billion Mining Industry. The Bravura Agreement will see the State granting a concession in the Fort Rixon area to Bravura. Bvavura is a highly technical company which will bring in specialized equipment for airborne geophysical surveys using radiometric, magnetic, electromagnetic, geo-radar among other methods to allow an optimal evaluation of mineral resources.  On its part, Bravura will carry out exploration, exploitation and processing of gold and allied minerals in the Fort Rixon concession. Production from the concession will be shared in accordance with terms to be set in the Operating Agreement yet to be signed, which shall be by production sharing in the proportion of 80% for Bravura and 20% to the State. An Operating Committee will also be set up for the development and exploitation programme, whose composition shall be defined in the Operating Agreement.

On the Jacqueline Resources Memorandum of Understanding, Government is pleased to announce that the MoU will establish a formal and binding relationship between the Parties for collaboration in the exploration and development of Coal Bed Methane in Zimbabwe. Jacqueline Resources (Pvt) Ltd is an Australian company which is duly registered in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe and has extensive experience in the exploitation and development of CBM fields as well as immense capacity to mobilize funding to undertake these activities, including the management of proactive projects.

The MoU will result in the signing of a Joint Venture Agreement between the Parties covering, inter-alia, the following areas:

  • the participating interests of the Parties in the Joint Venture;
  • profit sharing;
  • appointment of key project personnel; and
  • ownership of the project intellectual property rights of the Parties.

The Joint Venture Project and production licence shall run for 20 years with an option for renewal upon expiry of the period. A Management Committee comprising equal representation from both Parties shall be established to oversee the finalization of the Exploration Programme, the grant of title in respect of the Project Area, and the negotiation and execution of the Joint Venture Agreement.   

7.0   PRINCIPLES OF THE AIR ZIMBABWE DEBT ASSUMPTION BILL 

Cabinet adopted the Principles of the Air Zimbabwe Debt Assumption Bill, which were presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Honourable Professor Mthuli Ncube.

Cabinet advises that the Principles underpin the drafting of the Debt Assumption Bill for Air Zimbabwe Holdings (Private) Limited and Air Zimbabwe (Private) Limited. The Bill is required to allow for the clearance of the airline’s domestic and external debt, followed by the appointment of a new board and new management to run the airline, thus permitting its exit from the Reconstruction Order.

The Bill shall provide for the following:

  1. Framework for debt assumption processes and procedures;
  2. Validation and reconciliation of the liabilities;
  • Debt assumption modalities;
  1. Terms and conditions of the debt settlement plan; and
  2. Recovery plan for the debt paid by Government on behalf of the airline.

The Bill is in terms of the Public Debt Management Act as read with the Statutory Instrument 79 of 2019. It is expected that the Bill will ensure revival of the airline and its associated companies from perennial loss-making entities, into enablers of growth in tourism, trade, commerce and the economy in general. The Bill also fulfils the airline’s Reconstruction Order requirement for restructuring of its balance sheet through assumption of the airline’s domestic and external debt, and settlement of same by the sole shareholder, the Government of Zimbabwe.

I THANK YOU!

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