Zimbabwe: Vaccination Rollout Bears Fruit

Mabelreign Girls High School pupils (file photo).

Cabinet received an update on the country's response to the Covid-19 outbreak, which was presented by the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, as acting chairperson of the Ad Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the Covid-19 outbreak

Cabinet was informed that as at April 6, 2021, Zimbabwe's cumulative Covid-19 cases stood at 36 966, with 34 781 recoveries and 1 531 deaths. The recovery rate is 94 percent, with 35 240 of the Covid-19 cases attributable to local transmission. There are 654 active cases. Positivity continues to decline in response to national efforts to contain infection from the virus.

Cabinet informs the nation that henceforth, casinos will be allowed to re-open with strict observance of Covid-19 guidelines. Those found disregarding the guidelines will have their licences revoked. Casinos have been closed since the onset of the Covid-19 in March 2020

Progress report on the procurement and roll out of Covid-19 vaccines

Cabinet considered and approved a progress report on the procurement and roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines, which was presented by Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable CGDN Chiwenga.

With regard to the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out programme, Cabinet was informed that as at 6 April 2021, a total of 133 992 people received the first dose and a total of 23 432 received the second dose.

Following reports of production of fake vaccination cards by unscrupulous individuals, Government in liaison with Fidelity Printers and the Registrar Generals' Office has strengthened security measures through designing a water-tight vaccination certificate card. The card, to be printed by Fidelity Printers, will exhibit the following features: invisible coat of arms, which shines under UV Light; fluorescent numbering; water-marked security paper; micro text underground; and guilloche pattern.

Government will leave no stone unturned in apprehending greedy malcontents bend on tampering with the security features of the Vaccination Cards.

PROPOSED SUSPENSION OF THE ZIMSEC JUNE 2021 ORDINARY AND ADVANCED LEVEL EXAMINATION SESSION

Cabinet considered and approved a request for the suspension of the ZIMSEC June 2021 Ordinary and Advanced Level Examination Session, which was presented by the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. Cabinet was advised that the Covid-19 that broke out in 2020 had negatively impacted on the timing and cycle of public examinations, with the 2020 Grade 7, O' Level and A' Level examinations having commenced in early December 2020 and ended in early February 2021, instead of the usual period stretching from October to November of each year.

The delay in writing and the marking of the previous examinations has affected the preparation and the setting of the next examination hence the decision to temporarily suspend the June 2021 examinations.

This suspension of the June 2021 examination session will allow for timely focus on the November examination preparations and aid an effective focus of resources. Logistics will be put in place to ensure that the candidates who may have wanted to sit for their examinations in June 2021 do so together with other students in November 2021.

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

Cabinet informs the nation that under the Governance Pillar, Government embarked on production of Covid-19 and 2020 Heroes Commemorations radio and television jingles and skits in various official languages. In a bid to promote use of all official languages, the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services embarked on a project to produce and package jingles and skits for fostering social coherence, national culture and development. At the end of the 6th Cycle, 4 Kalanga, 4 Venda and 4 Ndebele Covid-19 radio skits had been produced. Furthermore, 8 Shona, 5 Ndebele, 4 English and 1 Chewa video skits were produced and aired to the public.

In an effort to improve vulnerable communities' access to information, the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services launched a project of establishing Community Information Centres (CICs) in 10 selected areas during the 6th 100-Day Cycle. By the end of the cycle all the 10 CICs had been established, set up and operationalised at Buli High School, Esigodini Post Office, Zengeza Post Office, Kambuzuma Post Office, Filabusi Post Office, Northend Post Office, Belmont Post Office, Matabisa Post Offices, Juliasdale Mission Hospital and Hatfield Post Office.

NEW HOUSING PLANS AND ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS FOR SETTLEMENT DENSIFICATION

Cabinet received and approved proposals on the use of new technology in housing construction as part of the strategy to mitigate the country's huge accommodation backlog.

Cabinet was informed that the technology, which is already in use in the Dzivarasekwa flats project, involves two options, namely: brick and mortar; and concrete. The housing designs will involve two and three-bedroomed flats, with social amenities such as water and sewer reticulation and electricity from renewable energy. The designs fit well into the Smart City concept.

The alternative technology will expedite works and save costs by up to half, with up to a thousand units being constructed in 15 months. This should enable Government to deliver 200 000 housing units by 2023. Construction materials will be produced locally, with the Harare Institute of Technology manufacturing the formers for the walling blocks.

Cabinet noted with satisfaction that the new technology will benefit the nation immediately through technology transfer for the country's entrepreneurs and skills development among the youths at training institutions.

The structures will be part of the urban renewal and settlement densification programme that will assist in curbing urban sprawl and save space for a wide range of socio-economic activities.

Construction works on the two former Messengers' Camps in Highfield, Harare and Senga in Gweru will soon commence followed by a similar regeneration programme across the country. In Dzivarasekwa 44 blocks comprising 16 units each will be constructed in 2021, with the private sector participating in the construction of an additional 44 blocks. Treasury has provided funds in excess of $1 billion in order for construction to commence.

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY 1 2021-2025 COMPLIANT PLANS

Cabinet received and approved Ministerial Action Plans that are compliant with the National Development Strategy 1; 2021-2025, which were presented by the Ministers of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development; and Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry; and Transport and Infrastructural Development.

Under the Ministerial Action Plans, Cabinet was informed that the Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development is mandated to promote gender equality, women's empowerment, sustainable community development as well as Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development.

The Ministry's strategic action plan is anchored on ensuring inclusive growth and development.

The Ministry is implementing interventions that have an impact at community level so as to improve livelihoods and incomes in all communities. Small and Medium Enterprises will play an important role in social upliftment and reduce unemployment. Cabinet noted that the Ministry will pursue co-operative streamlining and strengthening in order to make sure that they serve as a social and economic empowerment tool, especially for the marginalised and low income groups.

Expected deliverables from the Ministry's programmes will encompass the following, among others: increased financial inclusion; decent jobs and enhanced income security; reduction of extreme poverty; improved access to utilities.

The programmes implemented by the Ministry will address the plight of disadvantaged groups, including the disabled, by enhancing access to housing communities will be mobilised to participate in the Pfumvudza/Intwasa Programme, the Presidential Horticulture Scheme, the Small Livestock Programme, and Climate Mitigation projects. Communities will be encouraged to revive the traditional nhimbe/amalima concept to enhance productivity, while savings clubs will be strengthened through training for members. Gender-Based Violence awareness campaigns will be mounted in order to enhance peace in families and communities with all GBV survivors getting the support they require.

Programmes will also be undertaken to enhance food and nutrition security, rural industrialisation, and provision of decent work space for the promotion of small business enterprises.

Recognising the importance of cooperatives, the Ministry will undertake pre and post registration training for cooperatives, enact the Savings and Credit Cooperatives Act and the amendments of the Cooperative Societies Act.

There shall be closer supervision and conflict resolution for the smooth operation of cooperatives.

Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry

The Ministry is targeting to increase the area under sustainable management to 29,4 percent by 2025; to increase tourism growth by 200 percent from US$0.467 billion to US$1,505 billion and tourist arrivals from 0,7 million to 2,5 million arrivals by 2025. The Ministry will review and harmonise environmental policy and legislative frameworks; reclamation of degrade land area including wetlands, and develop transfrontier conservation areas.

Cabinet was informed that the mandate of the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry is the development, implementation and review of environment, climate, tourism policies and programme throughout Zimbabwe. The Ministry will seek to enhance collaboration with relevant Ministries in ensuring inclusive development through the sectors under its purviews.

Cabinet noted that the Ministry will combat pollution and enhance waste management, strengthens wildlife and forestry resources conservation, establishment of a tourism satellite account, engage bilateral and multi-lateral tourism promotion, and market development and diversification.

MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT

Cabinet also considered and approved the Action Plan presented by the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. Cabinet was informed that the vision of the Ministry is to develop Zimbabwe into a regional hub for world-class transport networks, logistics and services by the year 2030.

The Ministry seeks to develop sustainable integrated transport infrastructure networks and services that facilitate smooth, safe and secure movement of persons, goods and services. The Ministry will concentrate on transport infrastructure rehabilitation, construction and upgrades to standards that are prescribed in the National Development Strategy.

The main focus will be on ensuring that the transport sector plays its rightful role of an enabler for overall economic growth across the agriculture, mining, electricity, manufacturing and tourism sectors.

Cabinet was informed that the Ministry will address challenges on poor road and rail infrastructure, inadequate airport and airspace infrastructure, and inadequate infrastructure funding. Cabinet agreed that a sixth contractor to implement the upgrading of the Harare-Chirundu Highway along the North-South Corridor be engaged to immediately commence work. This development will complement the work already taking place along the Harare-Beitbridge Highway.

The Ministry seeks to undertake routine road maintenance on 9 600 kilometres by 2025, construct eight additional Vehicle Inspection Depots by 2024, and computerise drivers learners testing facilities at 19 centres by 2023, modernise airstrips such as in Binga in Matabeleland North Province, Chirundu and Kariba in Mashonaland West, Chivi, Tugwi-Mukos and Buffalo Range in Masvingo Province; and Chapoto in Mashonaland Central Province.

While the upgrading and expansion for Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport is underway, other airports set for upgrading include J.M. Nkomo International Airport, Binga, Chirundu, Chapoto airstrips, Tugwi Mukosi, and the Kariba and Grand Reef Airport. The projects at these airports will include provision of the requisite social amenities. In addition, Government is working on the reestablishment of in flight kitchens in the national interest.

In order to improve cargo handling, the Ministry will refurbish 100 wagons and procure additional wagons. The National Railways of Zimbabwe will improve cargo handling capacity by acquiring 45 coaches this year. Rail track will be rehabilitated in order to remove speed restrictions across 290 kilometers over a period of 5 years. This will reduce the risk of train derailments and reduce turnaround times. Vehicles and trucks will be procured for the enhancement of maintenance operations and monitoring the railway line. The gauge in use for the country's rail network will be reviewed in order to enhance internal transportation and promote regional integration. In addition, public private partnerships will be encouraged, hotels and lodges will be established along the shores of lake Kariba in order to enhance tourism.

Scanners will be increased at airports and other ports of entry and exit in order to enhance security and general surveillance. meanwhile dry ports will be set up in order to enhance the handling of imports and exports. Such ports are planned for Beitbridge, Chirundu, Mutare and Masvingo among others.

STRATEGY FOR CLEARING THE COUNTRY'S PASSPORT BACKLOG

Cabinet received a report on the strategies for dealing with the country's huge passport issuance backlog, which was presented by the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage.

Cabinet noted that failure to provide passports on time is causing inconveniences to citizens, with the current backlog now at 256 000. The passport production factory has an installed production capacity of 8 000 passport booklets per day.

However, the passport personalisation capacity is way below at 2 500 passports per day, while the installed quality assurance is further down at 2 000 passports per day. Foreign currency is required for the off-shore procurement of consumables. However, the current fees payable is the local currency are no longer viable due to the fact that the auction exchange rate, when applied to the fees charged translate to unviable returns on expenses. The production cost for a single passport is US$58,55.

Cabinet agreed that measures be taken to deal effectively with the current situation which is affecting locals and diasporans, alike. Thus passport fees were reviewed to US$60; and $200 for a three-day passport issuance, pegged at the average US$:ZW$ exchange rate. An emergency 24-hours passport remains pegged at a cost of US$318.00. This will ensure appropriate cost-factored passport revenue. E-Passport fees are pegged at US$80.00.

In addition, Treasury will provide US$4.5 million to purchase the required equipment and consumables.

The public is assured that passports issuance services will run uninterrupted until the backlog is cleared. The passport issuance shifts will be increased to three in order to expedite production. New machines are being acquired in order to improve operations. The training of personnel to work on the passport issuance programme will commence immediately. Import substitution will be embarked upon in order to reduce the imports bill by engaging local industry and the university innovation and industrial hubs.

THE EMERGENCY ROAD REHABILITATION PROGRAMME 2

Cabinet received an update on the commencement of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2, which was presented by Honourable Vice President Dr. C.G.D.N. Chiwenga as Chairman of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee of Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management.

Cabinet was informed that as the programme gathers momentum, sufficient resources have been mobilised for works on critical, high impact roads to commence in earnest.

The relevant Roads Authorities are mobilising equipment with Treasury support. Cabinet approved that the Department of Roads in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development takes over a number of roads form urban councils, as follows: Bulawayo metropolitan Province, 16 roads; Harare Metropolitan Province, 32 roads totalling 250km; Manicaland Province, 9 roads with a cumulative 25km; Mashonaland Central Province, 8 roads totalling 12km; Mashonaland East Province, 38 roads totalling 84km; Masvingo Province, 20 roads totalling 45km; Matabeleland North Province, 3 roads totalling 7km; Matabeleland South Province, 19 roads totalling 30km; and finally, Mildands Province, 27 roads totalling 125km.

Cabinet further took a decision that as the five companies contracted for works on the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway resume operations, a sixth company be engaged to immediately commence works on the upgrading of the Harare-Chirundu Highway.

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