HomeOpinion & AnalysisIn Full: Thirty-fourth post-cabinet press briefing 5th October, 2021  

In Full: Thirty-fourth post-cabinet press briefing 5th October, 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 Local Government and Public Works, Honourable J.G. Moyo, as Acting Chairperson of the Ad-hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on COVID-19.

As at 4 October 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 131 205, with 123 947 recoveries and 4 627 deaths. The recovery rate stood at 94%, with 99% of cases being attributable to local transmission.  Active cases stand at 2 631.

The number of new infections decreased during the week under review, despite the slight increase in new cases in learning institutions. The daily average of new cases dropped to 238 per day from 246, the previous week. The following areas recorded the most significant number of new cases: Matebeleland South (310), Mashonaland East Province (263), Manicaland (251), Matebeleland North (233) and Masvingo (202).

Regarding case management, infection, prevention and control, the number of people in need of hospitalization for COVID-19 continues to fall, with the country’s bed occupancy rate decreasing from 4.62% the previous week to 4.3% during the week under review.

Ninety-four (94) new admissions were recorded, with 6 patients placed under intensive care, as of 1 October 2021. There has been a decrease in cases of Covid-19 in schools across the country during the reporting period ending 3 October 2021. There were (815) cumulative cases compared to (1267) cases reported last week.

The nation is advised that in view of a potential fourth wave and the general complacency being experienced in most communities following the relaxation from Level 4 to Level 2 lockdown, implementation and enforcement of all Public Health and Social Measures will continue to be strengthened with a focus on vaccine rollout and awareness campaigns at public places and gatherings.

Cabinet notes, with concern, that the continued closure of licensed bars and night clubs has caused not only a loss of income and unemployment but also resulted in the mushrooming of illegal outlets. Cabinet therefore directed that all licensed bars be opened to fully vaccinated clients.

Bar owners are also required to ensure that the World Health Organisation and national protocols and guidelines are enforced, failure of which their licences will be withdrawn. The bars are also required to adhere to curfew hours.

Cabinet further notes with concern, the acute water supply situation in urban areas and tasked the Enhanced Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management, chaired by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care to address the issue.

On a related matter, Government takes this opportunity to advise the nation that His Excellency the President has, with immediate effect, consolidated the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the COVID-19 Outbreak and the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme into one Task Force.

  • 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.

Cabinet advises the nation that as of 4th  of October, 2021, a total of 3 117 895 people had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 2 322 862 their second across the country. This translates to a national coverage of 36.6% for the first dose and 27.2% for the second.

Cabinet wishes to further inform citizens that 943 200 doses of Sinopharm vaccine were received under the COVAX facility. This brings the total number of vaccine doses received since roll-out of the vaccination programme to 13 243 200.

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

Cabinet considered and adopted the Update Report on the 2021 Winter Wheat Production and Summer Crops Marketing, which was presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Honourable Dr. A. J. Masuka.

The public is informed that wheat harvesting has commenced with 65% of the harvest expected by the end of October 2021. To control the reported cases of damage to wheat by Quelea birds, the necessary chemical has now been received from Kenya and China.

Meanwhile, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has designated 18 intake depots for collecting wheat, and is purchasing quality control equipment as well as accelerating grain movement from the northern depots to the southern depots. Allocation of combine harvesters and transporters is being finalized by the AFC and GMB.

Regarding the delivery of the other strategic grains, Cabinet advises that the top 10 maize depots have received 57% of the expected maize, the top 10 traditional grains depots have received 78% of the intake, while the top 10 soyabean depots have received 77% of the deliveries to date. Maize intake has increased by 547%, traditional grains by 726% and soyabean intake by 914% this season compared to the same time last year.

Maize
A total of $1.5 billion was received from Treasury last week and cumulative receipts now amount to $33 038 772 364.37. Grain delivered to date is valued at $34 999 313 710.01 giving an outstanding balance of $1 960, 541 345.64.

Tobacco
In terms of preparations for the forthcoming summer season, some 83 938 farmers have registered for 2021/22 tobacco season compared to 79 134 farmers that had registered at the same time last year, translating to a 6% increase. Planting of the irrigated crop is in progress and 5 803 hectares  have been established to date as compared to 4 029 hectares planted at the same period last year, which is 44% higher.

This is due to the better rains last season and improved water supply situation. As part of the localization of the financing of tobacco, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has floated tenders for the supply of fertilizers and chemicals.

Cotton
Concerning cotton deliveries, the value of the seed cotton delivered to date stands at ZW$ 6.353 billion.  Cottco has paid a total of ZW$2.226 billion and US$2 809 539 to farmers. Regarding the 2020 outstanding farmer payments, ZW$569 million has been released by Treasury and paid to farmers and a balance of ZW$290 million is still outstanding.

Cabinet has also noted with concern, the proliferation of cattle rustling and wishes to warn the perpetrators of this crime that the law will take its course. Appropriate legislation will be put in place to stem this vice, deterrent action will be taken against errant players across the entire cattle value chain, including the revocation of operating licences for errant meat retailers and forfeiture of vehicles and other property for the transportation of stolen livestock.

4.0   REPORT ON THE REGULARISATION OF DYSFUNCTIONAL, ILLEGAL AND IRREGULAR SETTLEMENTS AND PROVISION OF WORKSPACES FOR MICRO SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (MSMEs) IN URBAN AND PERI-URBAN AREAS; AND UPDATE ON THE EMERGENCY ROAD REHABILITATION PROGRAMME 2

The Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable Retired General Dr. C.G.D.N. Chiwenga, as Chairman of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management (ECEPDM), presented the Report on the Regularisation of Dysfunctional, Illegal and Irregular Settlements and Provision of Workspaces for MSMEs in Urban and Peri-Urban Areas; as well as an Update on the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2. Cabinet adopted the Report.

Cabinet wishes to remind the public that since February, 2021, Government has been undertaking measures to address irregular and dysfunctional settlements, the poor state of the country’s road infrastructure, and to streamline the operations of housing cooperatives. Under Phase I of its programme, the Enhanced Cabinet Committee (ECPDM) achieved the following, among others:

  • The Committee identified and quantified a total of 31 257 households that are residing in dysfunctional and irregular settlements across the country.
  • It produced a National Wetlands Map and Policy for Zimbabwe.
  • The Committee established the level of compliance of all registered housing co-operatives and ascertained the legal status of some groups of people who refer to themselves as co-operatives when they are not so registered.
  • Remarkable progress has also been made in upgrading and refurbishing the country’s road network under the Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme 2 (ERRP 2).

The nation is advised that, following the successful completion of Phase 1, the Enhanced Cabinet Committee (ECEPDM) will now commence the Phase 2 of its interventions. Phase 2 will focus on accelerated implementation of measures to address the irregularities and dysfunctionalities that were identified during the first phase, so as to achieve Government’s objective of delivering 1.5 million low to medium-income housing units over the period 2018 to 2030, as well as completing road works targeted under the Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme 2 (ERRP2) and the subsequent phase. Emphasis will be placed on achieving set targets before the onset of the impending rains.

Phase 2 will also deepen the strands of work carried out under Phase 1, with emphasis on execution and attaining rapid results. Households irregularly settled on wetlands and areas reserved for servitudes and social amenities, for whom relocation is inevitable, will be prioritised.

It will be ensured that servitudes and social amenities such as roads, sewer, water, electricity, clinics, schools, shops, sporting facilities and SMEs market stalls are put up in their proper areas, while wetlands are properly conserved.

More specifically, Phase 2 shall be characterised by works aimed at achieving the following goals:

  1. Addressing the accommodation needs of families or households settled on flood-prone areas;
  2. Addressing legacy issues from the First Republic, that is, attending to the infrastructure deficits in Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle settlements;
  3. Regularisation of settlements on farms with disputed ownership;
  4. Mapping of settlements against approved layout plans in order to issue title deeds to deserving beneficiaries;
  5. Development and implementation of strategies on regularisation and rebuilding decent workspaces and markets for SMEs; and
  6. Implementation of strategies to ensure that foreign nationals do not operate in sectors of the economy reserved for locals, such as transport, retail and wholesale trade, barber shops, hairdressing and beauty saloons.

Cabinet is pleased to advise that the aerial mapping of Caledonia settlement has already been completed by the Zimbabwe National Geo-spatial and Space Science Agency (ZINGSA). The mapping exercise revealed that at least 30% of superstructures in the area fall outside the approved layout plan, with 4 703 households out of a total 33 090 having settled on land reserved for servitudes and social amenities.

The households will be accorded priority in the relocation exercise in order to pave way for putting up of the servitudes and social amenities. ZINGSA is now proceeding to carry out the mapping of Harare South settlements.

It should be noted that all urban settlements will be mapped against approved layout plans in order to provide sound basis for regularisation and enable the issuance of title deeds to deserving beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, the Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme 2 (ERRP2) continues to register significant progress across the country’s ten provinces. Highlights include the following:

  1. The Programme has so far rehabilitated 318.7km of road length, while 10 946 km have been regravelled;
  2. 11 529 km have been graded;
  3. Potholes have been patched on a total of 7 156km;
  4. 1 150km drainage structures have been constructed or repaired across all Road Authorities, while 204 washaways have been reclaimed;
  5. A total length of 7 092.1km of drains have been attended; and
  6. Verge clearing has been completed on 10 309 km.

Roads Authorities have, nonetheless, been directed to ensure that projects under their purview are completed by the end of October to ensure that outstanding works are completed before the onset of the impending heavy rains. Going forward, Local Roads Authorities will purchase road maintenance equipment using Devolution Funds under a phased approach, where equipment is imported, with the authorities being authorized to procure locally where it is locally available.

The empowerment of youths and women will be deepened by prioritizing the social groups’ participation in the implementation of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee (ECEPDM) projects.

His Excellency the President, Cde E.D. Mnangangwa, will soon commission the Kopa-Jopa Road in Chimanimani, the Masiyapambili Road in Bulawayo and Mbizo Road in Kwekwe.

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

Cabinet received reports on the 8th 100-Day Cycle of the Second Republic from the Ministers of Finance and Economic Development; Transport and Infrastructural Development; Energy and Power Development; and Mines and Mining Development, highlighting progress made as at Day-50 of the Cycle.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Honourable Professor Mthuli Ncube, reported that work is  in progress in cascading the International Public Sector Accounting Standards to 15 identified pilot public sector entities. Under the Ministry’s resource mobilisation programme, the revenue mobilized surpassed targets as at Day-50 of the Cycle, due to improved business operations as the COVID-19 control measures were relaxed.

On financial re-engagement, the external payments were fully paid up. Budget performance was good, with salaries paid on time and Government programme funding timeously provided. The amounts disbursed for capital projects exceeded targets. The 2022 Budget preparations are currently underway and are on schedule.

The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Honourable F.T. Mhona, highlighted that the targeted completion of the New Terminal South Wing at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport was 70% complete and well on course to meet targets. Phase 1 of the Upgrading and Mordenisation of the Beitbridge Border Post, involving construction of the freight terminal area, warehouse, Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) facilities and freight access is 95% complete.

On the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway, 26 km of the targeted 50 km were completed and opened to traffic. To date, over 240 km of the road have been opened to traffic and general progress is satisfactory. In Bulawayo, rehabilitation of the targeted 16.5 km of Masiyaphambili Road is on course, with 9.9 km having been completed.

The Minister of Energy and Power Development, Honourable Zhemu Soda, reported that several construction works are ongoing at the Hwange Thermal Power Station Expansion project, which is 71.86% complete.

Work is in progress for the electrification of Kanyemba in the Mbire District of Mashonaland Central Province. Construction of the Ethanol Storage Facility at NOIC’s Mabvuku depot is 88% complete, with tank fabrication having been accomplished and calibration in progress. Meanwhile, the mechanical power sections of the Richsaw Solar Power Plant in the Gwanda and Power Ventures Plant in Hwange have been completed.

The Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Honourable W. Chitando advised that the construction of the foundation for the targeted Coke Oven Battery at the Afrochine Dinson Colliery Plant in Hwange is complete. The planned concentrator expansion for the Unki Mine Debottlenecking Project in the Midlands is 95% complete, with 343 people from the local community having been employed by the various contractors participating in the project. Construction of the RioZim Diamond Plant is 78% complete, having employed 399 locals.

Meanwhile, Phase 1 of the targeted construction of the Copper Processing Plant under the Grand Sanyuan Copper Resources Dump Mine project in Mhangura is expected to be completed by end of November 2021. For the Shamva Gold Mine project in Mashonaland Central, the targeted pre-feasibility studies were successfully completed and definitive feasibility studies are set for completion end of this month.

6.0   PRINCIPLES OF THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT BILL

Cabinet considered and approved the Principles of the Parks and Wildlife Management Bill, which were presented by the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Hon N.M. Ndhlovu.

The Parks and Wildlife Amendment Bill will broaden Parks the scope of the Parks and Wildlife Act [Chapter 20:14] as well as harmonise it with all other Acts governing the wildlife sector, including aligning it to the Constitution. Properties that were acquired by the Government on behalf of the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority will be provided for under the amended Act, which will also repeal the Quelea  (Control) Act, the Rhodes Estates Act and the Trapping of Animals Act.

Cabinet notes that the current Parks and Wildlife Act was last amended over two decades ago, and the proposed amendments will align the legislation to the prevailing socio-economic-politico environment, as well as make it adaptable to the ever-changing dynamics. The Act will be amended to provide for the sustainable utilisation and development of the wildlife sector as well as international best practices. In addition, the wildlife conservation legislative framework will be upgraded, with the enabling law being accordingly amended to take into account technological advances in order to ensure that poaching and other illegal activities are effectively dealt with.

The consolidation of wildlife-related legislation into one Act will enable easier comprehension and efficiency in the management of wildlife.

7.0  CONSTRUCTION OF THE MBUDZI  TRAFFIC INTERCHANGE 

Cabinet has noted that works on the Beitbridge-Harare Highway is facilitating the smooth flow of traffic causing congestion at the Mbudzi Roundabout.  Accordingly, Cabinet has approved the immediate construction of the Mbudzi Traffic Interchange in Harare.

8.0  FURTHER EXTENSION OF LEVEL 2 LOCKDOWN

His Excellency the President Cde E.D. Mnangangwa has extended Level 2 Lockdown by a further 2 weeks.  The public is advised to continue observing WHO and National COVID-19 Protocols of sanitizing, masking up, practicing social distancing and observing curfew hours. 

I THANK YOU!

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