Zimbabwe’s Response to the Covid — 19 OUTBREAK
Cabinet received a report on Zimbabwe’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak, which the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs presented as the chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the Covid-19 outbreak.
Cabinet was informed that as at 23 October 2020, the country’s cumulative Covid-19 cases had increased to 8 257 out of which 6 849 cases were attributed to local transmission.
Once again, Cabinet noted that there were 7 771 recoveries, reflecting a 94 percent recovery rate, which is quite remarkable. The death toll now stands at 236. New cases for week 42 stood at 158, reflecting an increase from 105 recorded in week 41. The total number of health workers infected is now 653.
Cabinet wishes to dispel the myth that Covid-19 is weak in warm temperatures, and warns that the risks a second wave of infections if citizens become complacent in adhering to protective and preventive behaviour.
Cabinet resolved that the opening of border posts be phased, beginning with Beitbridge, Plumtree, Victoria Falls, Chirundu, Nyamapanda and Forbes. The borders will open first to private passenger vehicles and pedestrian traffic as from 1st December 2020, while further assessment is being undertaken with regard to preparations for handling public passenger transport. Cabinet wishes to inform the public that border operating hours are being fixed between 6am and 6pm until further assessment of the situation. Curfew hours are being relaxed from the current 8pm to 10pm for the convenience of those who are cleared late at ports of entry. This will be subject to gazetting.
Cabinet further wishes to inform the nation that Government is still receiving invaluable assistance from co-operating partners as efforts to bring the Covid-19 outbreak under control continue. On this very positive note, the Government of Japan is supporting Zimbabwe in equipping four central and eight provincial hospitals with state-of the-art medical equipment comprising bedside Intensive Care Unit monitors, an ultrasound scope, operation and examination equipment, a portable X-ray system, bedside coronary care unit monitors, emergency ventilators, electrocardiographs, an anaesthesia workstation, and artificial resuscitators. The equipment will soon be distributed to Parirenyatwa, Sally Mugabe, Mpilo and United Bulawayo Central Hospitals, and to Bindura, Chinhoyi, Gwanda, Gweru, Kadoma, Marondera, Masvingo and Mutare Provincial Hospitals. The support from Japan will assist Zimbabwe in ensuring a healthy nation that can withstand the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
AMENDMENTS TO THE CRIMINAL LAW (CODIFICATION AND REFORM) ACT [CHAPTER ( :23]
Cabinet considered and approved the amendments to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9 :23] as presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
Cabinet noted that the current law does not criminalise the unauthorised communication or negotiation by private citizens with foreign governments. Such communication or negotiation has a direct or indirect implication on Zimbabwe’s foreign relations and policy.
According to the Constitution, the foreign policy of Zimbabwe must be based on the promotion and protection of the national interests of Zimbabwe; respect for international law; peaceful co-existence with other nations; and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means.
In addition, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) only recognises states as legitimate players in foreign relations and negotiations. Private players thus have no business in foreign relations and negotiations between countries.
The amendments will criminalise the conduct of isolated citizens or groups who, for self-gain co-operate or connive with hostile foreign governments to inflict suffering on Zimbabwean citizens and to cause damage to national interests. The individuals or groups involve themselves in issues of foreign relations without verifying facts or engaging domestic authorities.
Such willful misinformation of foreign governments will therefore make the individuals or groups liable for prosecution. Other actions that will become punishable include planned and timed protests deliberately designed to coincide with major international, continental or regional events or visits. There are also various unsubstantiated claims of torture and abductions that are concocted to tarnish the image of government, and amendments will crimilise such conduct.
Progress report on the utilisation of the $500m SME stimulus package
Cabinet received an update on the utilisation of $500 million Small and Medium Enterprises Stimulus Package, which the Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises presented.
Treasury, through the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Bank as well as the Zimbabwe Women Microfinance Bank, availed a $500 million stimulus package to bail out MSMEs and women entrepreneurs to assist them to cope and recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Microfinance Bank focused its support on empowering women, youth and men to access and utilise machines produced locally by SME engineers such as those at Siyaso in Harare, Mutapa in Gweru, Kelvin West in Bulawayo.
The beneficiaries of the stimulus package embarked on the production of a wide range of products such as soap, washing powder, sanitisers, animal feeds, vegetables and poultry products.
The bank accords importance to agriculture as an enterprise, and is supporting farmers under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa household food security initiative and livestock programmes. Implements such as hoes, wheelbarrows, scotch carts and others were made available to the farmers.
Cabinet was informed that a total of 6 715 beneficiaries received a cumulative $27 013 448 covering June, July, August and September 2020 through 402 conventional loans, 5 922 mobile loans, and 391 asset financing loans. The bank developed a loan product, Katsaona in partnership with NetOne for ease of access by beneficiaries in remote areas.
Cabinet further noted that the stimulus package has generated interest among entrepreneurs across the following sectors : manufacturing, clothing, leather and textiles, health and pharmaceuticals, tourism, construction, livestock, dairy and horticulture. Plans are underway to avail more resources to the Zimbabwe Microfinance Bank.
Reports on the sixth 100-day cycle projects
As the Second Republic continues to implement programmes and projects intended to enhance socio-economic development, Cabinet received reports on the Sixth 100-Day Cycle Projects, which five ministers took turns to present.
The Minister of Industry and Commerce informed Cabinet that Sable Chemicals has accessed US$1,4million in foreign currency through the auction floor system which is sufficient to import Ammonia to produce 5 500 metric tones of AN fertiliser. The company has produced 2 700 metric tonnes of AN valued at US$1,35 million. The fertiliser will be supplied to CBZ Agro-yield, ZFC and Omnia.
Cabinet noted that the project will support the Agricultural Recovery Plan through the provision of affordable local fertilizer, and ultimately enhance production and reduce reliance on food imports.
Cabinet was informed that ZimChem company in Kwekwe made a robust response to the Covid-19 outbreak by diversifying its product range to the production of dishwashers and sanitisers at affordable prices. ZimChem has so far produced 15 000 litres of sanitisers. ZimChem will employ 80 more workers when it completes its plant refurbishment.
Another company, Chemplex Corporation, has so far made significant progress in the production of pesticides for the control of tsetse flies, mosquitoes and other pests. The company is modifying its manufacturing plant, and will soon increase its work force from 42 to 57.
In the electricity sector, the Minister of Energy and Power Development informed Cabinet that the Hwange Thermal Power Station 7 and 8 Expansion Project has reached 49 percent completion. A total of 34 transformers were manufactured, and efforts to procure the materials required for the rest of the project are being pursued.
The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement informed Cabinet that the National Agriculture Policy has been validated and now awaits finalization. The Ministry has started the process of distributing 163 tractors, 52 planters, 19 combine harvesters and 4 lowbed trucks acquired under the Belarus facility. Arrangements are being made to acquire more equipment under the third phase of the Belarus facility.
The ministry rehabilitated 116 boreholes and drilled another 15 boreholes during the cycle. The Pfumvudza/Intwasa climate-proofing programme is making remarkable progress, as 1 243 058 farmers have prepared planting holes and 1 844 agricultural extension workers have established demonstration plots for the coming summer season.
The motorcycle riding training programme is on course after 500 motorcycles were availed to the Department. A total of 55 235 soil samples have been taken, and 18 363 of the samples have been tested. Eight centre pivots will be installed on eight A2 farms in order to boost irrigation capacity.
Cabinet further noted with satisfaction that the Department of Veterinary Services produced 4.5 million doses of Newcastle disease vaccines and conducted 4 million poultry vaccinations.
The Minister of Mines and Mining Development informed Cabinet that Afro-chine has completed constructing its coking coal oven battery, while its coking coal plant has reached 70 percent completion and will produce approximately 12 000 tonnes of coke per month and employ around 300 workers. ZIMALLOYS has completed the construction of its furnace, which is the largest in the country and expects an annual output of 50 400 tonnes of high carbon ferrochrome. The project will generate annual revenue of US$54 million and create 400 jobs.
IntraChem has reached 90 percent complexion for its explosives plant which will produce 2 500 tonnes per month and create between 50 and 100 jobs.
The Great Dyke Investment project is a new project in Darwendale, and has reached 95 percent of plant installation. The project employs a total of 360 employees, and will produce a total of 3,5 million tones of ore per year.
Cabinet further noted with satisfaction that under the ASM Gold Consolidated Programme, 161 artisanal and small-scale miners out of a target of 140 have been approved for investment, and the roll-out of equipment to the miners has reached 40 percent. On full roll-out, 300 small scale miners will be equipped, and gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners are expected to be boosted.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development completed the selection and adjudication of 20 women’s projects, 10 in Mashonaland East, 5 in Manicaland and 5 in Masvingo Province.
The ministry conducted business and project management skills training for all the women’s groups and disbursed a total of $6 million to enable them to conduct business.
The ministry also disbursed $21,9 million to SME projects focusing mainly on manufacturing and value addition, and is currently assessing 13 projects. Most of the projects suffered delays due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Launch of the Agro-Zim application on Google Play Store
Cabinet wishes to inform the Public that information on the reviewed Agro-Ecological Zones of Zimbabwe is now available on Google Playstore for the convenience of our farmers.