FORTY-FIRST POST-CABINET PRESS BRIEFING 17TH NOVEMBER, 2020
1) ZIMBABWE’S RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK
Cabinet received an update report on the country’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs presented as Chairperson of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force.
As of 13 November 2020, Zimbabwe had recorded a total of 8 756 COVID-19 cases, 8090 recoveries, and 257 deaths. The national recovery rate is 92 percent. Seven thousand two hundred and ninety-six (7 296) of the COVID-19-positive cases are local transmissions.
New cases for week 45 stood at 294, compared to 109 recorded in week 44. Cabinet notes, with concern, that there has been an increase in COVID-19 positive cases over the past two weeks.
To guard against a second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, Government through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, is strengthening surveillance and health information management in order to ensure an efficient and effective system to counter such an eventuality.
Furthermore, awareness campaigns will focus on community engagement using community leaders with support from sub-national structures to foster community responsibility and enforce COVID-19 preventative and precautionary measures.
Regarding the laboratory testing for COVID-19, the total number of PCR tests done during the reporting week is 5 028, down from the 5 600 carried out during the previous week.
Concerning the management, prevention and control of COVID-19-positive cases, the nation is advised that there were no cases in isolation and treatment facilities, with all identified cases recovering in isolation at home.
Training in the management of COVID-19 infection, prevention and control continues as part of mitigating a resurgence of COVID-19.
Psychosocial support training for healthcare workers is also ongoing, while the Ministry of Health and Child Care is reviewing and updating its Infection Prevention Control policies and guidelines.
On materials production and availability, Cabinet advises that Natpharm and private companies have adequate stocks of most medicines and drugs required for the prevention, treatment and supportive management of COVID-19.
Stocks of PPE are also sufficient to meet demand.
Meanwhile, Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, continues to offer logistical support for the repatriation of Zimbabwean nationals and students across the globe.
On a related matter, the situation regarding trucks at Beitbridge has improved, following the intervention on the South African side, where bottlenecks were being experienced.
In the primary and secondary education sector, learner attendance statistics stand as follows: Phase 1 (final examination classes), 51.5%; Phase 2 (Grade 6, Form 3 and Lower 6th Form), 35.3%; and Phase 3 (ECD, Grade1, 2,3,4,5 Form 1and 2), 24.6%.
Teacher attendance has remained below optimal level with the overall teacher attendance for the week standing at 30%, compared to 25.7% recorded last week.
To ensure that schools do not become flashpoints for the spread of COVID-19, Cabinet resolved that where COVID-19 cases are suspected in schools without adequate testing facilities, these schools should be immediately closed in order to allow for testing of all pupils and only those who test negative return to school.
Schools with adequate facilities may continue lessons while testing proceeds and those who test positive are excluded.
NATIONAL JOINT NEGOTIATING COUNCIL AGREEMENT
Cabinet is pleased to advise that the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) has agreed on the following Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for civil servants’ remuneration: an average salary increase of 41% of the total package effective from 1st November, 2020; payment of annual bonus inclusive of transport and housing allowance staggered over the months of November and December.
The Council also agreed that negotiations will continue taking into account the cost of living and prevailing economic conditions.
The Council further agreed to come up with a roadmap by end of January 2021 informed by the National Budget to continuously review conditions of service with a view to maintaining the value of salaries.
3.REPORTS ON THE SIXTH 100-DAY CYCLE PRIORITY PROJECTS
Cabinet received update reports on progress made in the implementation of the Sixth 100-Day Cycle Projects from the Ministers of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare; Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry; National Housing and Social Amenities; and Transport and Infrastructural Development.
The Minister of State for Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes in the President’s Office also appraised Cabinet on priority projects covering various cycles which he had visited to assess implementation progress.
The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare highlighted that the projects under this cycle mainly relate to interventions to assist vulnerable groups.
These included the provision of basic commodities to 15 institutions for people living with disabilities in Harare, Bulawayo, Manicaland, Midlands, Masvingo and Mashonaland East. These projects had been successfully carried out.
Under the Financial Support to the Informal Sector affected by the COVID-19 Lockdown, 268 586 households were assisted.
The following projects are at various stages of completion: Development of COVID-19 Guidelines for the Workplace; and Development of a Social Security Scheme for Workers in the Informal Sector.
The Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry reported that progress towards the launch of Bikita as part of the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) is on course.
Bikita is one of only two districts still to be incorporated into CAMPFIRE, a programme with immense benefits in sustaining rural livelihoods and developing infrastructure.
Under the Community Participation in Fisheries Project excavation of four fish ponds is complete and only lining, fencing and stocking of the ponds is outstanding.
The following projects have registered satisfactory progress and are on course for completion: Establishment of a Sawmill Plant at Cashel Valley Estate in Chimanimani; Establishment of Large-scale Nurseries for Production of Firewood Tobacco Wood Energy Tree Seedings for Distribution in Hwedza and Nzvimbo; and Fuel Load Reduction and Fireguard Construction in Muzarabani and Hurungwe Districts.
The Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities informed Cabinet that construction of two block of flats to house medical doctors at Marimba in Harare had seen 20% of plastering being achieved so far. Treasury has released ZW$41 million towards completion of the outstanding works.
The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development outlined progress made in five prioritised projects. The Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport Construction of Concrete Structure for the North Wing of the Terminal Building has seen completion of excavation, footing, columns and the deck, representing 80% completion against the set target.
The Kopa-Jopa Road Rehabilitation following damage by Cyclone Idai is 68% complete after an additional 4 kilometers of the targeted 23 kilometers were surfaced.
The other projects which are at varying stages of implementation are as follows: Rehabilitation of Mhandamabwe-Chivi-Tokwe Road; Harare-Beitbridge Road Upgrading; and Rehabilitation of Skyline-Chimanimani Road Damaged by Cyclone Idai.
The Minister of State for Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes in the President’s Office visited a total of 19 projects in Harare, Manicaland, Masvingo, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West and Midlands provinces. Of the 19 projects, 12 are on course for completion, 4 are in the satisfactory range and only 3 are behind schedule.
Cabinet is pleased that under the Zimbabwe Enterprises (ZENT) Transformer Manufacturing project, 322 transformers out of the targeted 570 have been locally manufactured. In Chimanimani, bridge approaches of Umvumvumvu River No. 4 and No. 2 (Lydia Chimonyo) and Biriri Bridges were completed and opened to traffic. A total of 5 bridges were completed.
The road stretch from Skyline to Ngangu was reconstructed and widened.
In Harare, the re-opening of CAPS (Private) Limited’s 3rd Intravenous Mixing Plant is advanced, with construction having been completed and validation work having commenced in August 2020 after a COVID-19-induced halt. In terms of financial inclusion Youth Empower Bank has established branches in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Masvingo.
In Mashonaland West, establishment of the Kore Kore Cultural Vilage in Makonde District has benefited 80 households and awaits commissioning in Ward 9 of the District.
Coming to Mashonaland East, construction of the Mutoko Fruit and Vegetable Processing Hub was completed in 2019 and delivery of the purchased processing equipment is now awaited. When complete, the plant will empower local farmers, boost employment creation and reduce post-harvest losses.
This project is set to be replicated in other horticultural production areas. In Chinyika two fish ponds have been established at Chinyika Primary School and in the surrounding community.
Two fish farming cycles have so far been completed and the fish harvested and sold to the benefit of the local community.
In Masvingo, the Mushagashe Vocational Youth Centre Drip Irrigation Project has so far seen an 80 metre solar-powered borehole being installed, two-5 000 litre water tanks mounted and one hectare of land cleared for drip irrigation.
Butternuts, tomatoes, green mealies and paprika have been produced from the area.
The Machongwe Community Garden represents a well-managed profitable land-conservation concern with a membership of 33 contributing to a savings club. At the time of the visit the garden had a variety of green vegetables, peas and wheat on a 1.5 hectare piece of irrigable land.
The remaining projects visited with remarkable results achieved are as follows: establishment of a goat genetics research centre at Bindura University of Science Education; establishment of innovation and industrial hubs at Midlands State University; upgrading of Chisase, Uswaushava, Buffalo, Matedza and Boli satellite schools in Chiredzi; construction of Intrachem Explosives Plant in Kwekwe; refurbishment of the ZimAlloys A3 Furnace; completion of the Makuti-Chirundu Fibre-Optic link; and roll-out of containerized village information centres at Karanda and Chirundu.
A publication detailing progress made in the implementation of 100-Day Cycle Projects will soon be issued for the information of the general public.
4. ZIMBABWE LEATHER SECTOR STRATEGY: 2021-2030
Cabinet considered and approved the Zimbabwe Leather Sector Strategy: 2021-2030 which was presented by the Minister of Industry and Commerce.
The strategy which is a successor to the Leather Sector Strategy (2012-2017) seeks to increase the overall competitiveness of the leather value chain in Zimbabwe and enhance access to both local and export markets for the finished products.
The strategy will prioritise increased investments in industry, with emphasis on value addition and beneficiation of agricultural produce to promote export-led industrialisation as well as increase employment opportunities.
Cabinet noted that the objectives of the strategy are to increase capacity utilisation of value-added products from 30% to 75% by the end of 2030; to enhance the application of sustainable production technologies by manufacturing companies from the current 10% to 60% by 2030; to increase the export of leather products from 10% of production to 40%; and to lobby for the development and reform of 70% of the identified policies and legal frameworks for the transformation of the sector by 2030.
The strategies to be employed to achieve the set objectives include the capacitation of the livestock farmers; the introduction of new technologies; the promotion of product and market development by value chain players; and advocacy programmes on introduction of supportive policies.
The strategy also seeks to promote the rural industrialisation drive and the devolution agenda since it will be implemented through devolved structures to reach and empower the local communities.
5. ZIMBABWE INDEPENDENT COMPLAINTS COMMISSION BILL, 2020
Cabinet considered and approved the Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill, 2020 as presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
The Bill seeks to provide for an independent complaints mechanism for members of the public, against members of the security service pursuant to Section 210 of the Constitution.
Cabinet noted that the complaints mechanism is to be intermediated by a body which is independent of each of the security services.
Accordingly, the Bill establishes a Commission to carry out this function with a view to remedying any harm caused by any misconduct on the part of any member of the security services.
The Commission would investigate complaints by members of the public against members of the security services and ensure that offending members are brought to account through recommendations for disciplinary action to be taken against them and appropriate remedies be granted to complainants.
The Commission will investigate practices which are in contravention of Section 206(2) and (3) of the Constitution which requires that national security be pursued with the utmost respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens as well as the rule of law.
The Commission must also, through investigation, ensure compliance by members of the security services with Section 208 of the Constitution which requires them to be non-partisan.
The Commission will have a contact person from each security sector who would address issues in their respective sectors.
I THANK YOU