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ZIMBABWE’S RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS (Covid-19)
Cabinet received an update on Zimbabwe response to the Covid-19 outbreak, which the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs presented as the chairperson of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Covid-19.
Cabinet was informed that as at 25 September 2020, Zimbabwe’s cumulative cases of Covid-19 stood at 7 787, with 6 057 recoveries and 227 deaths. It is noted that 6 415 of the Covid-19 cases are locally transmitted.
Cabinet noted that whereas the Government’s response to Covid-19 has so far prevented a catastrophic spread of the outbreak, citizens are encouraged to guard against complacency and continue to abide by the protocols and measures currently being applied.
Cabinet wishes to reassure the public that the resumption of international flights and the imminent re-opening of Victoria Falls International Airport on October 1, 2020, is well on course and that the assessments of other major airports has been completed. The Ministry of Health and Child Care has held a special consultative meeting with all key stakeholders in the tourism industry to provide technical guidance on the implementation of Standard Operating Procedures for the re-opening of the designated ports of entry.
As a measure to guarantee the safety of travellers, Cabinet further resolved that in line with Statutory Instrument 216(5) Section 8, which requires travellers showing Covid-19 symptoms, whether or not they have a Covid-19-free certificate to be tested, a nominal fee of US$60 be levied on travellers tested at ports of entry, and that the proceeds be used to replenish laboratory commodities. Metered taxi operations have been allowed to resume services to allow for the movement of tourists and citizens who are unable to use public transport.
With regard to law and order, Cabinet advises that in response to its earlier decision to further ease lockdown restrictions, security personnel will he directing greater attention towards the enforcement of critical Covid-19 containment measures such as physical distancing and the proper donning of face masks.
Following the decision to allow for the phased reopening of schools, Cabinet noted that the dissemination of Covid-19 standard operational procedures has laid the foundation for the establishment of sentinel surveillance centres. The centres will assist in monitoring adherence to Covid-19 protocols and promote a safe learning environment. Every school has been linked to a specific health team.
This strategy will ensure active rapid response at local level. Designated temporary isolation holding bays have been set up at each school for individuals requiring further health attention after screening. There is mandatory logging and thermal screening at every school entry and exit point in order to enhance contract tracing and surveillance. Schools that are unable to provide water are being advised that they cannot re-open before the situation is rectified.
REVIVAL OF THE NATIONAL HOUSING FUND
Cabinet received proposals on the revival of the National Housing Fund, which the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities presented.
Cabinet noted that in terms of statistics available, the general demand for housing in Zimbabwe stands at 2 million housing units. The effective demand for housing from local authorities’ waiting lists stands at 1,5 million units, inclusive of civil servants’ requirements.
Cabinet also noted that in the late 1980s, the Government disposed of 75 percent of its existing pool properties to sitting tenants as an empowerment initiative. There was, however, no corresponding and equitable replacement of the properties so disposed of, hence the current housing deficiency, which affects ordinary civil servants as well as the security services sector.
At the same time, Cabinet noted that the devolution programme has created structures at provincial level that require provision of additional accommodation for personnel. Furthermore, the inevitable staff movements through transfers and staff promotions have compounded the accommodation challenges across provinces vis-à-vis limited investments in the sector.
With a view to alleviating the accommodation challenges, Cabinet approved as follows: to re-capitalise the National Housing Fund and the Housing Guarantee Fund portfolios: and to institute forthwith a moratorium on the disposal of Government Pool properties. Suitable land will be availed across the country for the engagement of building brigades in the construction of Government pool houses in line with a comprehensive national housing provision programme whose chief aim is to empower citizens and civil servants, including those in rural areas.
Henceforth, the vertical construction and densification model will be adopted in housing provision in order to optimally utilise land and provide amenities efficiently and at manageable costs. In line with the Second Republic’s thrust of private sector-driven development, the private sector, pension funds, banks will be facilitated to partner with other sources of funding in order to avail resources for housing construction.
A user-friendly mortgage system will be designed for the purpose of easing the burden of home-ownership for various categories of citizens.
PREPARATIONS FOR THE 2020 SUMMER AGRICULTURAL SEASON
Cabinet received an update on preparations for the 2020 summer production Season, which the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement presented.
Cabinet noted that the Meteorological Services Department has since issued a forecast for a generally good rainfall season throughout the county, with normal to above normal rains expected.
The meeting resolved to implement strategies to revamp production to ensure and assure food security; to increase import substitution; to diversify and increase exports; and to increase value addition and beneficiation.
In fulfilment of these objectives, Cabinet noted that the distribution of inputs will be expedited for crops as well as for livestock production, while Agritex will be capacitated to achieve greater mobility following the procurement of motor bikes that will soon be distributed to the provinces.
The Agritex officers are already assisting farmers countrywide with soil sampling and analysis in order to ensure appropriate agronomic practices.
The main programmes under which farming activities will be resourced include the Pfumvudza/Presidential Input Scheme, the Command or Smart Agriculture Programme, and the Presidential Cotton and Sesame Programme.
Cabinet noted with satisfaction that the Belarus mechanisation programme will be launched today in order to give impetus to the country’s farm mechanisation programme. On an equally positive note, the seed supply situation for maize varieties will be enough to cover both Government programmes, private sector and individual farmers using their own funds and resources. Various schemes are underway to ensure provision of fertilisers.
Cabinet also wishes to advise the public that in line with the livestock growth plan, tick grease will be distributed to one million households under the Presidential programme. This is a stop-gap measure while dip tanks are being rehabilitated in anticipation of improved water supplies for dipping. Farmers are being sensitised on the artificial insemination programme which is set for roll-out.