HomeOpinion & AnalysisIn Full: 30th post cabinet press briefing: 7th September,2021

In Full: 30th post cabinet press briefing: 7th September,2021

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  • UPDATE ON ZIMBABWE’S RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK

Cabinet received an update on the country’s response to the COVID-19 Outbreak, which was presented by the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, as Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the COVID-19 Response.

Cabinet hereby informs the nation that as at 6 September, 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases had increased to 125 550, with 117 036 recoveries and 4 493 deaths. The recovery rate was 93%, with 99% of COVID-19 cases being attributed to local transmission. The number of infections continued to fall during the week under review, with the 1 113 cases recorded reflecting a 38% decrease from the 1 785 reported last week.

The trend in new COVID-19 cases for the week under review has been reported as follows: Manicaland, 213; Harare Metropolitan 180; Bulawayo Metropolitan 112; Mashonaland East 137; Masvingo 132; and Matabeleland North, 96.

Cabinet wishes to urge the nation to continue to exercise a high level of alertness and ensure that the COVID-19 third  Wave does not cause further harm to health and business.

It is encouraging to note that there has been a corresponding general decline in the number of persons in need of hospitalisation for COVID-19 management, with the country’s hospital bed occupancy also decreasing from the previous 14.5% to 10% during the week under review.

Cabinet is further informing the nation that during the week under review, 14 learners of the total of 299 689 enrolled in examination classes tested positive for COVID-19.

A total of 19 teachers also tested positive, and Cabinet wishes to assure the nation that Rapid Response Teams are ensuring that Standard Operating Guidelines for the Coordinated Prevention and Management of COVID-19 are implemented.

His Excellency the President has today announce a review of the COVID-19 Lockdown Measures, and all citizens should be guided accordingly.  Highlights of the review are as follows:

1. Curfew from 2200 to 05:30hrs
2. Businesses to operate from 0800 to 1900hrs
3.Restaurant & bars within hotels & lodges to operate between 0800 to 2200hrs
4. Bottlestores to open between 1000 and 1600hrs
5. Beer outlets & nightclubs to remain closed.
6. Public gatherings to not exceed 100.
7. Decongestion of offices shall be at 50%
8. Intercity travel now permitted in strict adherence to COVID-19 health measures
9. Low risk sports to resume from 0800 to 1600hrs
10. High and medium risk sporting activities to seek approval.
11. Persons entering the country should present a Covid-19 test valid less than 48 hrs.
12. Lockdown relaxation to be reviewed in 2 weeks.

  • UPDATE ON THE PROCUREMENT AND ROLL OUT OF COVID-19 VACCINES

Cabinet received an update on the procurement and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, which was presented by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Hon. C.G.D.N. Chiwenga.

As the vaccination programme continues to gather momentum, Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that as at 6th September, 2021, a total of  two million seven hundred and twenty nine thousand nine hundred and fifty-five (2 729 955)  persons had received the first dose while one million seven hundred and twenty eight thousand seven hundred and ninety seven (1 728 797 had received their second COVID-19 vaccine dose.

These figures translate to a national coverage of 31.9% for the first close, and 20.2% for the second dose. Vaccination in border towns and people’s markets is ongoing.

3.0   PRIORITY PROJECTS FOR THE 8th 100-DAY CYCLE OF THE SECOND REPUBLIC

Cabinet considered and approved Priority Projects for the 8th 100-Day Cycle of the Second Republic as presented by the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes in the President’s Office, Hon. Joram Gumbo.

A total of one hundred and sixteen (116) projects were submitted for implementation under the 8th 100 Day Cycle which commenced on 2 August, 2021 and will end on 10 November, 2021.

Minister Gumbo indicated that the priority projects were selected on the basis of set criteria, and should contribute to the attainment of the National Development Strategy 1: 2021-2025, and have an impact on the livelihoods of the citizenry.

The selected projects are citizen-centric, of high impact, can be implemented rapidly, and resources are readily available. The projects are drawn from Ministerial annual plans and linked to the Whole-of-Government Performance Management System (WOGPMS).

Of the 116 projects that were submitted, 71% are ongoing, while 29% are new. The projects were clustered according to the fourteen (14) thematic areas of NDS1, as follows:

  1. Digital Economy  6
  2. Youth, Sport and Culture       5
  3. Economic Growth and Stability       15
  4. Image Building and International Re-engagement     12
  5. Devolution  2
  6. Social Protection 7
  7. Human Capital Development 9
  8. Health and Well-being  5
  9. Housing Delivery 9
  10. Environmental Protection, Climate Resilience and Natural Resource Management       3
  11. Governance         11
  12. Moving the Economy up the Value Chain and Structural Transformation    9
  13. Infrastructure and Utilities     21
  14. Food and Nutrition Security   5

Making a total of 116 projects

4.0   PRINCIPLES FOR THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE RURAL ELECTRIFICATION ACT [CHAPTER 13:20

Cabinet received and approved the principles to amend the Rural Electrification Act [Chapter 13:20] as  presented by the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Hon. Zhemu Soda. Cabinet wishes to inform the public that the Rural Electrification Act is being amended to align it to best practice. The amendments will seek, among other provisions, to provide for:

  1. expanding the mandate of the Fund to include diverse sources of energy;
  2. giving the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) legal recognition as the implementing arm of the Fund;
  3. rationalising the composition and functions of the Board; and
  4. allowing REA to implement its projects and reduce on contracting out;

Under the amended Act, the number of civil servants who sit on the REA Board will be reduced in conformity with the provisions of good corporate governance, as contained in the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act (Chapter 10:31), and there will be gender parity in the membership of the Board.

The amendments will also provide for the appointment of the Chief Executive Officer, and for the renaming of the Rural Electrification Agency to the Rural Energy Agency.

5.0   TOBACCO VALUE CHAIN TRANSFORMATION PLAN

Cabinet approved the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan, as presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Hon. Anxious Masuka.

The nation is informed that the Tobacco Value Chain Transformation Plan aims at transforming the tobacco value chain into a US$5 billion industry by 2025 through localisation of tobacco financing, increased production and productivity, value addition and beneficiation, and exports of cigarettes. The initiatives should contribute significantly to Gross Domestic Product growth, foreign currency generation and employment creation, thereby raising household incomes in pursuit of Vision 2030.

The strategic objectives of the Plan are as follows:

  1. to localise the funding of tobacco to complement external funders;
  2. to raise tobacco production and productivity from 262 million kilogrammes to 300 million kilogrammes by 2025;
  3. to diversify and increase the production of alternative crops such as medicinal cannabis and increase their contribution to the farmers’ incomes to 25% by 2025;
  4. to increase the level of value addition and beneficiation of tobacco from 2% of total tobacco produced to 30% in order to increase exports of cigarettes; and
  5. To create an enabling environment that incentivizes investors to set up shop in the country instead of exporting raw or semi processed tobacco;

The immediate objective is to increase tobacco production and productivity through increasing the yield per unit, increasing the area under crop and minimizing losses.  The above measures are being taken because the country is not getting maximum benefit from its tobacco crop in terms of value addition and beneficiation.

Cabinet further wishes to inform the public that the Tobacco Research Board is already conducting research on alternate crops such as Chia, Industrial Hemp and Sesame, as well as other types of tobacco such as Shisha, which is very popular in the Middle East.

Research is also being conducted into the extraction of high-value compounds from tobacco, such as nicotine, solanesol and edible oil. Preliminary studies have already been done on the extraction of tobacco edible oil and identified varieties that could be used for oil extraction. All these efforts are meant to increase the income that accrues directly to the farmers.

6.0   UPDATE ON THE WINTER WHEAT PRODUCTION PROGRAMME AND THE MAIZE AND COTTON MARKETING SEASON.

Cabinet received an update on the country’s Winter Wheat Production Programme and the Maize and Cotton Marketing Season, which was presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement.

Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that the winter wheat crop is generally good across all provinces, and the major activities on the farms include spraying of chemicals for pest control, top dressing and routine irrigation.

There is adequate water in the dams for crop irrigation. Early planted wheat is now at hard dough stage in most provinces. The producer price will be announced in due course.

From the 66 435. 86 hectares planted under the Presidential, NEAPS/Command/CBZ Agro-Yield and Private Sector schemes at a yield level of 4.5 tonnes per hectare, the country expects 298 961 MT, against the national requirement of 360 000 MT.

GMB has commenced preparations for wheat intake, and has designated 18 intake depots in that regard. The allocation of combine harvesters and transporters is being finalized by AFC and GMB. Harvesting of the early-planted wheat is expected to start from mid-September onwards, and fuel for the contracted farmers is being made available on time.

The Quelea bird menace remains a major threat in all provinces,  and farmers are accessing bird shield chemical from GMB.  The use of drones to complement knapsack spraying has been adopted to improve efficiency and reduce costs as efforts to save the crop from the migratory birds continue.

Cabinet has also approved that a Migratory Pest Control Unit be established as a department in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement to ensure  surveillance of all important pests (quelea, locust and armyworm); train farmers on surveillance; react to outbreaks timely;  coordinate stakeholder efforts; and mobilise resources for adequate and effective responses. Current wheat stocks are sufficient until the next harvest, expected from mid-September.

With regard to the 2021/22 grain marketing season which commenced on 1st April 2021, Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that positive developments are continuing. Selected GMB depots have now introduced 24 hour shifts to accelerate grain intake and reduce the waiting time for farmers.  Collections are being ramped up in all areas of high grain output.

Mashonaland West Province has the highest maize and soyabean intake, while Mashonaland Central has the highest traditional grains intake. On another positive note, traditional grains production has improved remarkably.

The current sorghum intake of 89 573 metric tonnes has exceeded the highest ever tonnage since independence, which was the 82 013 metric tonnes delivered in the 1985-86 marketing season.  Efforts to curtail side marketing are continuing, and a total of 3 258 MT of Maize has been seized from 241 individuals for breaking S.I. 145 of 2019, while 1 489 MT of Soyabean have been seized from 62 individuals for breaking S.I. 79 of 2011.

On tobacco, Cabinet noted with satisfaction that nearly 67 025 farmers have registered for the 2021/22 tobacco season, compared to the 57 252 farmers who had registered at the same time last year, reflecting a 17% increase.

As of 31 August, 2021 cumulative sales were 208 816 935 kg, with prices being 12% firmer than last year, due to improved quality offerings by farmers. These deliveries have already surpassed 184 million kilogrammes received last year by 13.5%. The value of the tobacco deliveries is  also 28% higher than last year.

As part of the localization of the financing of tobacco, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board is contracting 50 000 ha, up from the 12 000 ha contracted last year. This is estimated to cost USD 60 million, and will be financed by local banks, including the Agricultural Finance Company.

7.0  REGISTRATION OF PREVIOUSLY UNDOCUMENTED CITIZENS

Pursuant to a recent Cabinet decision on ensuring that the previously undocumented citizens among the San Community are catered for, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage was directed by the President to go and engage the community and Traditional Leadership on the issue.

Minister Kazembe updated Cabinet on the outcome of his recent visit to Tsholotsho as follows:

  1. There are about 3 000 San people in Tsholotsho area;
  2. The 3 000 unregistered people should be registered without any hassles;
  3. The registration process will commence on Monday, 14 September,2021; and
  4. The chiefs will assist in the registration process, and nobody should be turned away.

I THANK YOU!

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