Third post-cabinet press briefing March 1, 2022

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Monica Mutsvangwa

ZIMBABWE’S RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, AND REPORT ON THE PROCUREMENT AND ROLL-OUT OF VACCINES
Cabinet received an update on the country‘s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, procurement and roll-out of vaccines which was presented by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable, Dr. C.G.D.N. Chiwenga, as Chairman of the Ministers’ COVID-19 National Committee.

The nation is advised that as at 28 February, 2022, Zimbabwe’s cumulative Covid-19 cases stood at 236 380, with 226 394 recoveries and 8 395 deaths. The recovery rate was 96%, with 4 591 active cases being recorded.

covid 19 patient

On the national vaccination programme, as of 28 February, 2022, a total of 4 357 858 first doses have been administered, with 3 393 674 people having received their second dose and 123 025 their third dose.  Cabinet, nonetheless, notes with concern the decline in the number of vaccines administered during the reporting week, compared to last week.

The nation is also being advised that preparations are underway for the planned national vaccination blitz. The Blitz will include the 12 to 15-year age group, in line with the recent Cabinet directive. Accordingly, all Ministries will provide maximum support to the blitz with a view to protecting communities against severe impact of a potential 5th wave and as such, Cabinet would like to encourage all citizens who have not yet been vaccinated to go and get vaccinated since we are not yet out of the woods.

Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that the continued discussions and engagement with the Stakeholders is bearing fruits and has positively resulted in increased attendance at schools by both teachers and pupils. By Friday, 25 February, 2022, the attendance at schools by both teachers and learners was at 91.7% and 85%, respectively.  Cabinet was also informed that Government and Civil Service Representatives negotiated and agreed on improved conditions of service for civil servants.

In view of the opening up of the economy and the need to enhance service delivery to citizens, Cabinet also resolved that, going forward, the entire civil service should revert to normal working hours, i.e. 0745 to 1645 hours.

UPDATE ON THE 2022 POPULATION AND HOUSING CENSUS
Cabinet received an update on the 2022 Population and Housing Census which was presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Honourable Professor Mthuli Ncube.

Housing Census

The nation is being informed that preparations for the 2022 Population and Housing Census are ongoing with the Census mapping and Pilot census having been successfully completed. The Census mapping was completed on 19 January, 2022 with a total of 40 257 enumeration areas having been demarcated, while the Pilot census, on the other hand, was undertaken from 18 to 27 November, 2021.

The recruitment and training of census personnel is underway, with the 500 Level 1 trainees having commenced their training on 22 February, 2022. The training will end on 2 March, 2022.  The subsequent Level II training will comprise 7000 trainees and will run fron 8 to 18 March 2022, while level III training will comprise 41 500 trainees, and will run from 7 to 17 April, 2022.  The actual enumeration will be conducted from 21 April and will end on 30 April, 2022.

Cabinet noted with satisfaction that the preparations are on track for the successful holding of the 2022 Population and Housing Census.

PROPOSED REVIEW OF BOARD FEES AND SITTING ALLOWANCES FOR NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS OF PUBLIC ENTITIES
Cabinet received and approved the Proposed Review of Board Fees and Sitting Allowances for Non-Executive Directors of Public Entities, which was presented by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Hon C.G.D.N. Chiwenga, as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Public Enterprises Reform and Development.

Health minister Constantino Chiwenga

The nation is being informed that decision to increase board fees and sitting allowances in terms of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act [Chapter 10:31] was arrived at taking into cognizance the crucial role played by the directors, and the period when the last review was effected, that is, December 2020. The current board fees and sitting allowances had fallen far below the market trends and no longer motivated State Enterprises and Parastatals non-executive directors to devote sufficient time to the business of their entities. Since the boards of directors’ major role is providing effective and entrepreneurial leadership, it is necessary to put in place an attractive remuneration package in order to attract high calibre, experienced and skilled individuals to the boards.

The review of the board fees and sitting allowances is based on the following criteria:

  1. categorisation of the State Enterprises and Parastatals according to size based on their asset base and turnover;
  2. acquisition of current market data for reference purposes (benchmarking)
  3. factoring in a chosen market rate into the model to determine the proposed board fees and sitting allowances, and
  4. testing of the revenue sustainability of the proposed board fees and sitting allowances for the different State Enterprises and Parastatals.

Having taken all these factors into account, the non-executive Directors of State Enterprises and Parastatals will be remunerated on the basis of categorisation of their entities, which range from small to very large, and premised on assets and turnover. SEP performance will also be an indicator which determine future board fees and sitting allowance reviews. Furthermore, Cabinet approved the bi-annual review of State Enterprises and Parastatals board fees and sitting allowances.

PRINCIPLES FOR THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE RURAL DISTRICT COUNCILS ACT [CHAPTER 29:13]
Cabinet received a presentation from the Minister of Local Government and Public Works on the proposed amendments to the Rural District Councils Act [Chapter 29:13]. The Rural District Councils Act, which regulates local authorities, is being amended to achieve alignment to the Constitution. The amendments will seek, among other provisions, to provide for:

  1. consultation with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and local authorities before the exercise of powers by the President or Minister responsible.
  2. the membership of Councils.
  3. devolution of Governmental powers and responsibilities
  4. qualifications of Councillors.
  5. assumption of office by Councillors.
  6. the suspension and removal of Councillors from Office.
  7. the procedures and appointment of an Independent Tribunal, and
  8. the incorporation of Junior Councillors in development programmes under Local Authorities.

The amendments will also provide for the opening of a Devolution Account, into which revenue from the fiscus will be deposited for the provision of basic services, namely educational and health facilities; water; roads; and electricity within areas under the jurisdiction of the Local Authorities.

Cabinet approved the principles, which are a result of widespread consultations with stakeholders.

UPDATE ON WEATHER REPORT AND FORECAST FOR THE PERIOD 1 TO 7 MARCH, 2022
Cabinet wishes to advise the nation that the migration of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone northwards into Zambia, and the tropical cyclones in the Mozambique Channel have contributed to the reduced rainfall activity over Zimbabwe.  However, in the next seven days, the country is expected to receive mostly light rains with the exception of the extreme northern parts during the forecast period.

EVACUATION OF ZIMBABWEAN STUDENTS FROM UKRAINE
Cabinet would like to reassure the nation that Government is taking all necessary steps to evacuate students and other nationals from Ukraine following the outbreak of war with Russia. The country’s Missions to Moscow and Berlin are facilitating the evacuation mission. To date, a total of 118 students have relocated to the following safer places: Romania, 28; Hungary, 15; Slovakia, 26 and Poland, 49.  Government is in the process of buying tickets for the students to come back home. There is a Mission Official who is currently based in Poland to assist those that need to be repatriated. You will continue to be updated on the situation of students in Ukraine.

Ukraine seeks “immediate ceasefire” and Russian withdrawal

PRINCIPLES OF THE URBAN COUNCILS AMENDMENT BILL
The Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Honourable J.G. Moyo, presented the Principles of the Urban Councils Amendment Bill, which were adopted by Cabinet.

The nation is advised that the Principles for the amendment of the Urban Councils Act [Chapter 29:15] seek to align the Act with the Constitutional Amendment Act No. 20 of 2013 and Constitutional Amendment Act No. 2 of 2021.

PRINCIPLES OF THE REGIONAL, TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING AMENDMENT BILL
Cabinet considered and approved the Principles of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Amendment Bill as presented by the Minister of Local Government and Public Works.

The nation is informed that the amendments of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act would ensure development of smart cities as well as curbing illegal developments. Cabinet approved the following:

  1. that the Provincial Council be empowered to plan and implement social and economic activities in its province;
  2. that in preparing a master plan the local planning authority must make provision for setting aside land contained within communal land for the establishment of a township, village, business or industrial area or an irrigation scheme, excision of communal land and permits to occupy and use communal land;
  3. that it becomes mandatory that when a master plan has been approved by the Minister, the local planning authorities must implement the operative master plans into priority local plans within 12 months;
  4. that the local planning authority be mandated to prepare a local plan within 12 months after the master plan has become operative;
  5. that local authorities be obliged to obtain permits for developments to ensure that there are lawful developments as well as supervision of projects;
  6. that built up environments within a mining location be approved by local planning authorities;
  7. that local authorities issue a publication every five years on   reservation of certain buildings, and that any person who contravenes a building preservation order shall be guilty of an offence, and liable to a fine not exceeding level 10 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year.

REPORT ON THE ZIMBABWE-BOTSWANA BI-NATIONAL COMMISSION

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade updated Cabinet on the 3rd Session of the Bi-National Commission between Zimbabwe  and Botswana which was held from 21 to 25 February 2022 in Victoria  Falls.

It is pleasing to report that the 3rd Session of the Bi-National Commission between Zimbabwe and Botswana registered a new milestone as five (5) more Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were added to the list of concluded and signed instruments, thereby bringing to twenty-five (25) the total number of Memoranda of Understanding/ Agreements that have been concluded between two countries.

The nation is informed that the following MoUs were signed at the conclusion of the Bi-National Commission:

  1. Memorandum of Understanding on Agriculture Development and Food Security;
  2. Memorandum of Understanding on Water Cooperation;
  3. Memorandum of Understanding on Child Protection;
  4. Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Youth Development, and
  5. Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Tourism.

NATIONAL CLEAN UP
The Minister of Industry and Commerce as Acting Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon. Dr. S. I. Nzenza updated Cabinet on the National Clean Up Programme.

NATIONAL CLEAN UP

Cabinet advises that in line with the Declaration by His Excellency the President on 5 December 2018 that the first Friday of every month be the National Clean Up Day, the next National Clean Up Day will be on Friday, 4th March 2022. The nation is encouraged to participate in the Clean-up from wherever they are.

I THANK YOU!