HomeLocal NewsIn Full: 33rd Post-cabinet press briefing 28th September 2021

In Full: 33rd Post-cabinet press briefing 28th 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, Honourable O.C.Z. Muchinguri-Kashiri, as   Chairperson of the Ad-hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on COVID-19.

As of 27 September 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 129 919, with 122 446 recoveries and 4 607 deaths. The recovery rate stood at 94%, with 99% of cases being attributable to local transmission.  Active cases stand at 2 772.

This week the number of cases recorded went up to 3356.  The cases increased slightly, with 1687 cases recorded during the week under consideration, compared to 1669, the previous week. The following areas recorded the most significant number of new cases: Masvingo (450); Mashonaland East Province (261); Matabeleland North (216); Manicaland (193); Midlands (190) and Mashonaland Central (145). It is apparent that Mashonaland East; Midlands; Masvingo and Matabeleland South provinces are experiencing a resurgence of Covid-19 spurred by the cases in boarding schools. The majority of the cases were mild and asymptomatic without the need for hospitalization and are being managed by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.  The Ministries of Health and Child Care, and Primary and Secondary Education continue to implement the standard guidelines for the Coordinated Prevention and Management of Covid-19 at learning institutions, while strengthening measures to ensure continuous teaching and learning during isolation or quarantine. The nation is informed that Cabinet directed that half term breaks be prohibited in order to help learners catch up on time already lost during the lockdown and this will also strengthen COVID-19 containment measures.

On budget commitments, the Ministry of Health and Child Care cleared arrears amounting to ZWL$39 000 000.00 which were owed to local authorities.

Concerning food and water sustainability, four new boreholes were drilled during the week, while 77 others were rehabilitated and eighty-four hand washing facilities were commissioned at various public places.  Harare Metropolitan’s water production is averaging 400ML/day, against demand of 1200ML/day, while Bulawayo City’s water production remains at 153.7ML/day, against a demand of 155ML/day. Government is implementing measures to mitigate the acute water shortages in Harare.

Cabinet is pleased to advise that the number of people in need of hospitalization due to Covid-19 continues to decline, bearing testimony to the effectiveness of COVID-19 containment measures in place.

Meanwhile, Government is looking into sustainable ways of improving the conditions of service for nurses, doctors and other health professionals. This is in light of the huge workload the professionals are burdened with in this era of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  1. 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, gave an update on the progress made in the procurement and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.

Cabinet advises the nation that as of 27th September, 2021, a total of        3 051 371 people had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 2 211 880 their second across the country. This translates to a national coverage of 35.7% for the first dose and 25.8% for the second dose. Of special note is that the country achieved the three million vaccination milestone for the first dose on 23 September, 2021. Cabinet wishes to further inform citizens that China made yet another donation of 500 000 doses of Sinovac vaccine, which were received on 26th September, 2021. The total number of vaccine doses sourced since roll-out of the vaccination programme is 12 300 000, the bulk of which were procured through treasury

3.0   UPDATE ON THE TRANSFER OF NURSES’ SALARIES FROM HARARE AND CHITUNGWIZA MUNICIPALITIES PAYROLLS TO THE GOVERNMENT PAYROLL.

Cabinet received an update on the transfer of nurses’ salaries from the Harare and Chitungwiza Municipalities’ payrolls to the Government payroll which was presented by Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Honourable Prof. P. Mavima, as Chairperson of the Ad-hoc Inter-Ministerial Committee on the transfer of Health workers from municipal to Government payroll.

Cabinet wishes to inform the public that its decision to transfer health workers from the Chitungwiza and Harare Municipalities’ payrolls to the Government payroll has started in earnest, with 60 out of the 65 nursing staff in Chitungwiza having been transferred.  Measures are being put in place for the City of Harare to expedite the implementation of the Cabinet decision of transferring 368 health professionals. This is in line with the Government’s decision to centralise the payment of essential services in order to ensure timely payment

To smoothen implementation of the transfer of the health workers, Cabinet resolved that, going forward,

  • the implementation of the Cabinet directive be made in a manner that allows the complete absorption of Health Professionals from all Urban Local Authorities starting with Chitungwiza followed by Harare and then moving on to the remaining Local Authorities;
  • that the Committee be given a month to engage Municipalities in order to deal with legacy issues, such as outstanding salaries, provident funds, statutory obligations, and other conditions of service such as funeral assistance, medical insurance and accommodation;
  • that, instead of transferring just nurses, Government will transfer all health workers in Urban Local Authorities to the Government payroll under the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

4.0   LABOUR AMENDMENT BILL, 2021

Cabinet considered and approved the Labour Amendment Bill which was presented by the Attorney-General on behalf of the Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.

The Bill aligns the Labour Amendment Act to Section 65 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act 2013, and to the ratified International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions. The Bill, also provides for the rights to fair and safe labour practices and standards.

The amendments also makes provision for the promotion of the ease of doing business in the labour market through the streamlining of the labour dispute settlement and retrenchment processes.  The Bill also takes care of emerging issues in the world of work such as labour broking, violence and harassment at the work place and emerging forms of employment relationships with a view to closing the lacuna in the existing legislation thus entrenching fair labour standards contemplated in section 65 of the Constitution.  Provisions are also made to deal with “gender-based violence” and other cases of violence and harassment at the work place.

Clause 3 outlines the types of work which shall not be defined as forced labour. These include the following:

  1. any work or service exacted by virtue of compulsory military service laws;
  2. any work or service which forms part of the normal civic obligations voluntarily undertaken by citizens;
  3. any work or service exacted from any person as a consequence of a conviction in a court of law; and
  4. any work or service exacted by a public authority by virtue of any law in cases of emergency.

Clause 11 seeks to amend section 18 to align the Labour Act to Section 65(7) of the Constitution to ensure that women employees have the right to fully paid maternity leave for a period of 3 months by removing qualifying periods, prescribed intervals for maternity and a number of times for enjoying the right to maternity leave under one employer.

The Bill will go a long way in maintaining balance between guaranteeing employee rights and ensuring productivity in the workplace. The issue of dysfunctional fragmentation of unions in the various economic sectors vis-à-vis the right to freedom of association will also be provided for.

5.0   MID-YEAR PERFORMANCE REVIEW OF THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY 1: 2021-2025

Cabinet received and adopted the Mid-Year Performance Review of the National Development Strategy 1: 2021-2025, which was presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Honourable Professor Mthuli Ncube.

The Mid-Year Report is the second report after the First Quarter Report presented in May 2021. This Report covers the fourteen National Priority Areas of the National Development Strategy 1, and is a critical component of the Strategy’s monitoring and evaluation framework.

Cabinet wishes to advise the nation that in spite of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, national economic performance is expected to remain strong, on the back of

  • an improved 2020/2021 agricultural season,
  • higher international mineral commodity prices, and
  • a stable macroeconomic environment and proactive COVID-19 pandemic national interventions.

Projections are therefore that, if the current growth trajectory is sustained, there is a high probability that the respective Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and NDS 1 Thematic Working Groups will be able to meet their national targets for 2021.

A synopsis of the performance review indicates that, under the Economic Growth and Stability pillar, the GDP growth rate for 2021 has been revised upwards from the initial projection of 7.4% to 7.8%. Budget surpluses were recorded in both the first and second quarters, with revenue performance above targets, while expenditure slightly exceeded the projected target. The declining  trend  in inflation was also sustained during the second quarter, with quarterly inflation averaging 149% against the targeted 228%.

Other highlights include the following:

  1. in the Moving the Economy Up the Value-Chain and Structural Transformation focus area, an increase of capacity utilisation rates from 47% in 2020 to 56% was registered;
  2. under the Infrastructure and Utilities  pillar,  remarkable progress was registered in road infrastructure rehabilitation under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2 (ERRP 2);
  3. In the Image Building, International Engagement and Re-engagement pillar, two community radio stations were operationalised, 76% national radio coverage was achieved and all the targeted awareness campaigns were aired on the major media platforms;
  4. under the Human Capital Development and Innovation pillar, eight Innovation Hubs, one Science Park and four Industrial Parks were established during the first half of 2021, with the Verify Engineering Medical Oxygen and Nitrogen Gases Plant having been completed and commissioned, and
  5. under the Health and Wellbeing focus area, the national vaccination programme was successfully rolled out, while the Radiotherapy Centre at Mpilo Hospital was resuscitated, and the Solar for Health Programme to benefit 70 clinics in line with Government’s drive towards adoption of Clean Energy, was also undertaken.

Meanwhile, in the Youth, Sport, Arts and Culture pillar, industrial incubation hubs, interact and cultural heritage centres were established in order to increase youth participation in development activities in the country’s various socio-economic sectors. The following sporting infrastructure facilities were constructed during the first half of 2021:

  • Hwedza Country Club;
  • Victoria Falls Multipurpose Court;
  • Chachacha Multipurpose Court;
  • Rafemoyo Multipurpose Court; and
  • Concession Recreation Park.

Significant progress has been made in refurbishing facilities such as the National Sports Stadium in Harare ahead of the resumption of domestic and international events.

In the Governance focus area, Regional offices and Magistrates Courts were constructed in Mt. Darwin, Chinhoyi, Lupane, Epworth and Chiredzi, while 149 statutes have been aligned to the Constitution, leaving a balance of 34. There has been considerable progress in the implementation of the NDS 1 in the remaining pillars, namely: the Environmental Protection, Climate Resilience and Natural Resources Management; Social Protection; and Devolution and Decentralization.

Government will not leave anyone behind  in the implementation of the National Development Strategy 1: 2021-2025.

6.0   REPORTS ON THE EIGHTH 100-DAY CYCLE OF THE SECOND        REPUBLIC

Cabinet received reports on the 8th 100-Day Cycle of the Second Republic, which were presented by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care; the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development; and the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage.

Under the Ministry  of Health and Child Care, Honourable Vice President C.G.D.N. Chiwenga, reported that construction of the Stoneridge Polyclinic in Harare South is 80% complete. The targeted drilling of 100 boreholes and installation of 150 solar power systems at primary care clinics are on course to completion. The upgrading of human health laboratories to the required World Health Organisation standards at Parirenyatwa, Sally Mugabe and Beatrice Infectious Disease Hospitals and the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory are all above 90% complete.

The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Honourable Professor Amon Murwira, highlighted that the Mapfura Beneficiation and Value Addition Plant at Rutenga in the Mwenezi District of Masvingo Province was fully assembled and is ready for commissioning, with the prototype Mapfura Wine having been produced. Buildings under the Higher and Tertiary Education Institutions Civil and Construction Engineering Infrastructure programme are at various levels of completion as follows:

  • construction of the Bindura University Female Hostel is at 75%,
  • the Simon Mazorodze School of Health Building is at 70%,  and
  • the J.M. Nkomo Polytechnic Home Economics Building is at 75%.

The Commercial Herringbone 24 Point Milking equipment was procured, delivered and assembled at the Chinhoyi University of Technology Industrial Park, and now awaits commissioning.

The Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Honourable Kazembe Kazembe, reported that most of the materials and services for the redevelopment of the Old Bulawayo National Monument had been procured, and the targeted framing of the beehive hut (Ighugwana) was completed.  Meanwhile, construction of the Wedza District Registry Building is 70% complete, and the targeted electrical fittings and civil works at the Murewa District Registry Building were completed. The construction of Chimoio Block C Residential Flats under the Zimbabwe Republic Police infrastructural development programme is 87% complete and on course for completion by the end of the cycle. Under the National Archives of Zimbabwe, the preliminary survey of the Kariba Community Archives was conducted, while work is in progress at the Kazungula Border Post project.

6.0   PRINCIPLES OF THE LANGUAGES BILL

The Minister Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Honourable Dr. Kirsty Coventry, presented the Principles for the Languages Bill, which were adopted by Cabinet.

The Bill will safeguard the country’s 16 officially recognized languages, in fulfillment of Section 6 of the Constitution. The Government of Zimbabwe recognizes that language is a powerful vehicle of a people’s culture and identity, and the proposed Act will promote, preserve and develop the languages of Zimbabweans. Given the diversity of languages in the country, the Act will ensure their use in order to avoid marginalization of any languages or community from loss of identity and culture.

In more detail, the Principles which underpin the proposed Languages Bill include the following:

  1. promotion of multilingualism and linguistic diversity;
  2. respect of language rights and/or linguistic preference as fundamental to the process of nationalism;
  3. development of augmentative and alternative communication systems for people with impediments that inhibit communication;
  4. recognition and promotion of languages as cultural wealth;
  5. establishment and maintenance of institutional structures, such as the National Languages Board, the National Languages Fund, and the Languages Database; and
  6. equitable allocation of resources for the development of officially recognized languages.
  • ROLL-OUT OF THE NATIONAL FUEL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development updated Cabinet on the National Fuel Management System, which was developed by the Harare Institute of Technology, with support from the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA).

The nation will recall that Cabinet earlier on resolved that a technology-based fuel management system, which provides real-time fuel tracking capability, should be developed and implemented throughout the country. This followed rampant malpractices in the fuel sector, which were negatively impacting the wider economy. The objectives of the system are as follows:

  • to improve the quality of fuel service delivery;
  • to reduce the amount of foreign currency required to import fuel;
  • to reduce pilferage of fuel purchased using local currency and selling it on the US$-denominated market;
  • to establish the actual national fuel requirements per province; and
  • to regulate fuel importations which use foreign currency obtained from the foreign currency auction market.

Government is pleased to inform the public that this pilot phase of the National Fuel Management System has been completed, and the system has been proved to be robust and ready for full implementation. The system, which is set be rolled out soon across the fuel distribution value chain, including at retail outlets, will ensure judicious management of fuel resources in the country and provide real-time information for decision-making.

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