Eighth post-cabinet press briefing

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  1. UPDATE ON 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 Task Force on the country’s response to the COVID-19 Outbreak.

Cabinet was informed that as at 26 March 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 36 805, with 34 572 recoveries and 1 518 deaths. The recovery rate stood at 94%, with 35 081 cases being attributed to local transmission. Active cases were 715.

With regard to vaccines, Cabinet was informed that uptake of the Sinopharm vaccine has increased significantly, following the launch of Phase 2 by His Excellency the President in Victoria Falls on 24 March 2021. Beneficiaries under this Phase include people with pre-existing chronic conditions, the elderly and those confined to settlements and institutions, such as prisons and refugee camps. Work on a civil service vaccination plan is  underway.

Following the resumption of inter-city travel, Government is strengthening surveillance of the activities of public transporters to ensure adherence to COVID-19 regulations. The general transport situation is also being reviewed for the commuting public following reports of many commuters relying on unconventional means of transport in the form of pick-up trucks and lorries. As a way of guaranteeing the safety of all Zimbabweans,His Excellency the President will make the necessary pronouncements to guide the nation during the Easter and Independence holidays.

Cabinet noted with concern that some unscrupulous persons are producing fake COVID-19 vaccination certificates for sale to unsuspecting members of the public. Investigations are underway in order to bring the culprits to book. Cabinet further agreed that boarding school students should not  travel  to their homes for the Easter holidays as part of the strategy to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The learners should stay at their respective schools, given the congestion anticipated on public transport during holidays.

2.0   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, Honourable C.G.D.N. Chiwenga.

Cabinet was informed that Government received 35 000 doses of COVAXIN from India yesterday, 29th March, 2021. The outstanding one million and fifty six thousand vaccines from the 1.256 000  doses that were purchased by Government  from China arrived today, 30st March, 2021.  Government is also in the process of sourcing for another two million doses of vaccines which Government will pay for.

Cabinet noted that uptake of the vaccine in Victoria Falls has so far been commendable. As at 25 March 2021, a total of 11 915 people had been vaccinated, against a target of 25 000, a number which has since increased.  Focus is now on hotspots which include the country’s major points of entry and exit, that is, Beitbridge, Plumtree, Chirundu, Kariba, Forbes and, Nyamapanda. Also included will be Mutare and the two metropolitan cities of Harare and Bulawayo.

  1. JOINT VENTURE BETWEEN ZMDC AND FOSSIL MINE FORGRAPHITE MINING UNDER CONTRACT AT LYNX MINE

Cabinet considered and approved the proposal for a joint venture between the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and Fossil Mine for graphite mining under contract at Lynx Mine, which was presented by the Chief Executive Officer of the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency.

Cabinet was informed that the project is part of the programme to resuscitate defunct mines. Lynx mine is located in Karoi, Mashonaland West Province and produces mainly graphite which is used in nuclear reactors, battery terminals and consumer electronics. Lynx Mine stopped operations in 2016 due to severe financial and other operational challenges.

Cabinet noted that Fossil Mines has been engaged in contract mining before, at  the Fredda Rebecca and Shamva Gold Mines. The production contract will run for a period of 10 years, with the possibility of extending operations to 18 years upon further exploration. The project is expected to generate employment and earn foreign currency, given the improvement in graphite prices on the international market.

4.0   PREPARATIONS FOR THE 41ST INDEPENDENCE DAY ANNIVERSARYAND CHILDREN’S PARTY

Cabinet received an update on preparations for the 41st Independence Day Anniversary and the Children’s Party. The Children’s Party will take place on 17th April, followed by the Independence Day Anniversary Celebrations on 18th April, 2021.

Cabinet is informing the nation that the theme for the 2021 Independence Anniversary is Zim@41-Together, Growing our Economy for a Prosperous, Resilient and Inclusive Society.

With regard to the Children’s Party, Cabinet approved that fifty (50) learners selected from primary and secondary schools across all the ten (10) provinces and encompassing the districts will be facilitated to attend the main event at State House on 17th April, 2021. The number is inclusive of Child Parliamentarians.  Each province will therefore provide for 5 children who shall be accompanied to State House by two teachers.

The transition from the Children’s Party to Independence Day will be marked by a Virtual Independence Gala and a fireworks display at midnight, the latter at the Rainbow Towers and lasting half an hour.

In the run up to the 2021 Independence Day, Cabinet has  sanctioned a national clean-up campaign, and information to that effect will be disseminated to all the provinces. The Ministries of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation; and Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry are jointly organizing the clean-up, with the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services on hand to ensure selected segments are beamed to the nation.

Two most popular clubs, Dynamos and Highlanders, will compete for honours in the President’s Independence Day Trophy under strict WHO Protocols  and National Guidelines to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Sixteen radio stations will be resourced for the purpose of broadcasting His Excellency the President’s Speech in the official languages dominant in each community.

5.0   NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY 1 COMPLIANT MINISTERIAL FIVE-YEAR PLANS

Cabinet approved Ministerial Five-Year Plans compliant with the National Development Strategy 1: 2021-2025, which were presented by the Ministers of Energy and Power Development; Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services; Health and Child Care; and Local Government and Public Works.

  1. Energy and Power Development

Cabinet was informed that the Ministry of Energy and Power Development’s mission is to ensure the provision of adequate and sustainable energy through formulating and implementing effective policies and regulatory frameworks. The Ministry is targeting to improve energy supply capacity and access to modern energy services as well as to enhance energy efficiency and service delivery. Provision of universal access to modern energy will be attained through maintenance and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure and implementation of new projects; policy re-alignment and development; and sector restructuring. Implementation of the Renewable Energy Policy and the Bio-Fuels Policy which were launched in 2020 will be prioritized, while implementation of the Rural Energy Master Plan will be enhanced. The Hwange 7 and 8 expansion project  will see 600 MW being injected into the national grid by 2022, while solar plants will contribute 100 MW. The number of households using modern energy forms by 2022 is estimated to reach 702 085, while water solar heaters to be installed will be approximately 12 000.

  1. Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services

Cabinet was informed that the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services seeks to provide high-quality Information Communication Technology (ICT) facilities and services that are modern, accessible and affordable in order to improve the standard of life for Zimbabweans. The deliverables of the Ministry to the nation will encompass the following: improving access to ICTs; increasing ICT literacy, usage, and consumer satisfaction and protection; and increasing ICTs investment and industry growth. Focus will also be on compliance to regulations and policies.

Projects earmarked for implementation during the plan period include enactment and implementation of the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill; development of an implementation framework for the Computer Incidence Response Centre (CIRC) and establishment of a Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT); finalization of the procurement and delivery of the Telecommunications Monitoring System (TTMS) and SIM Registration System; establishment of the Public Finance Management System (PFMS) kiosks at district centres; and the setting up of community information centres/containerized village information centres. During the plan period, the mobile network will be expanded and optimized by setting up 1 187 sites for the deployment of 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G services.

Other projects will include expansion and optimization of optic fibre backbone network; the National Research and Education Network (NREN); the National ICT Hardware Repair and Maintenance Centre; Smart Education/e-Learning; assistive technologies for people with disabilities; and upgrading of the TelOne internet gateway to 100G capacity in order to increase throughput.

  1. Health and Child Care

Cabinet also noted that the Ministry of Health and Child Care seeks to provide, administer, co-ordinate, promote and advocate for the provision of equitable, accessible, affordable and acceptable quality health services and care to Zimbabweans while maximizing the use of locally available resources in line with the Primary Health Care approach. The Ministry’s focus will be on increasing domestic funding for health; improving human resource performance in the health sector; increasing access to water, sanitation and healthy environment; improving access to availability of essential medicines; and reducing morbidity and mortality from communicable and non-communicable diseases. Other areas to be prioritized include improving infrastructure facilities and critical equipment for heath service delivery; improving reproductive, maternal, new born child and adolescent and nutrition as well as public health surveillance and disaster preparedness and response. The Ministry will also focus on improving access to primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary health care services.

Some key projects to be implemented will entail establishment of the Health Services Commission and a National Health Insurance Scheme; and increasing the client satisfaction index and the general service readiness index by 79% and 90% by 2025, respectively. The number of secondary (district) level health institutions with functional theatres is envisaged to increase from 43% in 2020 to 99% in 2025, while hospitals with tracer equipment will increase from 20% to 82% during the same period. Use of traditional medicines will also be prioritised.

  1. Local Government and Public Works

Cabinet was informed that the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works seeks to promote socio-economic development of rural and urban communities in a well-built devolved environment. The Ministry will focus on improving funding for the devolution and decentralization agenda as well as on improved general administrative decentralization. In order to improve governance and service delivery, the Ministry will in 2021 align a number of laws which include the Rural District Councils Act, the Urban Councils Act, the Provincial Councils and Administration Act and the Traditional Leaders Act. Laws to be reviewed and enacted will include the Disaster Risk Management Act, the Urban Stateland Act, the Town Planners Act,  and the Regional Town and Country Planning Act, among others.

To facilitate the enhancement of an integrated and built environment, a number of master plans will be expedited, and there will encompass the New City Master Plan, the Victoria Falls-Zambezi Regional Plan, the Tugwi-Mukosi Master Plan, the South Eastern Lowveld Plan, the Kanyemba Master Plan and the Victoria Falls-Binga Special Economic Zone Plan, and the Rwenya-Concept Master Plan. Furthermore, the urban mass transport system will be modernized in order to make it more efficient and effective.

The Ministry will also embark on construction, maintenance and management of public buildings, including completion of institutional accommodation. Construction of disaster recovery houses in Tsholotsho, Chimanimani and Binga will be expedited in 2021, while general disaster risk management mitigation plans will be developed.

6.0   REPORT ON THE INTEGRATED INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS STRATEGY IN THE MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS AND CULTURAL HERITAGE

Cabinet considered and approved a Report on the Integrated Information and Communication Technology Systems Strategy in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, which was presented by the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Innovation, Technology Development and Application.

The Integrated Information and Communication Technology Systems Strategy in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage is a component of the Smart Government Pillar of the SMART Zimbabwe 2030 Master Plan which aims at reforming critical Government operations through ICTs. Implementation of the strategy will result in the enhancement of interaction between Government and its citizens through the digital platform.

The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Integrated Strategy aims at automating work processes, and integrating ICT systems within the Ministry as well as with outsiders. Automation is expected to enhance operational efficiencies and national security. The Integrated System will be inter-operable and will help reduce corruption and improve revenue collection. Clients will be able to access the Ministry’s services through multiple, transparent and easily accessible channels. The project will help reduce congestion and manual paperwork, and improve back-office functions. Through the system, the banking sector will be able to confirm clients’ personal information in real time, while Government Ministries in the tourism, transport, traffic management and revenue collection sectors can benefit from linkages with the Immigration and Central Registry as well as with the Zimbabwe Republic Police. The project will be implemented on a phased basis, with priority being accorded to partially computerized Departments such as Immigration, the Civil Registry and the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Phase 1 of the project will commence in 2021, using funds allocated to the Ministry for the current budget year.

7.0   THE PROVINCIAL METROPOLITAN COUNCILS BILL

Cabinet considered and approved the Provincial Metropolitan Councils Bill, which was presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.

Cabinet was informed that the current Provincial Councils and Administration Act [Chapter 29:11] should be amended to align with the Constitution. Chapter 14 of the Constitution provides for matters to do with the creation of Provincial and Metropolitan Councils in line with the principles of devolution. The Constitution further provides for the financial matters in relation to the devolution of power in Chapter 17 of the Constitution.

The major highlights of the Bill entail the following, inter-alia:

  1. providing for the repealing of the Provincial Councils and Administration Act [Chapter 29:11] and substituting it with Provincial and Metropolitan Councils Act;
  2. providing for the corporate status of councils and procedure for alteration of provinces;
  3. providing for the procedure to be followed in altering boundaries of provinces and districts in consultation with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the people in the Provinces and Districts concerned;
  4. providing for the functions of Provincial and Metropolitan Councils;
  5. providing for the membership of Provincial and Metropolitan Councils;
  6. providing for the conditions of service for council members;
  7. providing for the election of a Council Chairperson and the establishment of Committees of Provincial and Metropolitan Councils;
  8. providing for the exercise of legislative functions by Councils in their respective provinces; and
  9. providing for the establishment of a Provincial Revenue Fund, books of accounts and all other standard financial provisions.

8.0   UPDATE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 6TH 100-DAY CYCLE PROJECTS AND PREPARATIONS FOR THE 7TH CYCLE OF THE SECOND REPUBLIC

As decided by Cabinet at its 7th Meeting, projects implemented under the 6th 100-Day Cycle will be presented weekly.

Cabinet would like to inform the nation that in line with the Government thrust of improving infrastructure and social cohesion, most of the 6th 100-Day Cycle projects were implemented in the infrastructure and social cohesion pillars.  Under the social development pillar, a total of 50 small and medium enterprises in various sectors mainly manufacturing and value addition were funded to the tune of ZW$27.9 million which was disbursed. The intervention has revived a number of players in the SMEs sector who were reeling from the effects of COVID-19 lockdown.

Following the outcry by sport fans after Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA condemnation of national stadia (National Sports Stadium) and Barbourfields (BF), Government embarked on a project to renovate the same. Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that Barbourfields is now equipped with the standard football facilities, including a well-maintained pitch with CAF compliant goal posts and nets, changing rooms, mixed zone area, parking, and a disabled ramp to help people living with disabilities to access the facility.

Due to importance of the current vaccination programme, I have brought with me the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care to attend to any questions pertaining to vaccines procurement or roll-out.

I THANK YOU

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