Zimbabwe: Approval to Buy 5m More Covid-19 Vaccine Doses Granted

Africa needs timely access to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines (file image).
14 April 2021

Cabinet received an update on the response to the Covid-19 Outbreak, which was presented by the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs as chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the Covid-19 Outbreak.

Cabinet was informed that as at 12th April, 2021, Zimbabwe's cumulative Covid-19 cases stood at 37 307, with 34 901 recoveries and 1 542 deaths.

The recovery rate stands at 94 per cent, with 35 423 of cases being attributed to local transmission. Active cases were 864.

Cabinet noted that due to the strong Covid-19 surveillance system being implemented in schools, last week's outbreak at Sacred Heart School in Umzingwane District of Matabeleland South Province was easily detected and dealt with.

Out of the 248 students and 33 teachers tested, 117 were found to be Covid-19 positive.

All the cases are mild, and are isolating at the school for the learners or at home for the teachers. Response activities that include contact tracing and strengthening of all Standard Operating Procedures and guidelines are in progress.

Generally, hospital admissions for Covid-19 cases have decreased, resulting in institutions such as the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals reclaiming areas in the Out-Patient Department for routine service provision. However, Cabinet is advising citizens to maintain a high level of alertness and adhere to the preventive measures already in force. This includes during the impending 41st Independence Day Anniversary, when gatherings of more than 50 persons will also be prohibited.

In order to protect learners during the forthcoming holiday and avoid the Covid-19 infection spike as happened over the Christmas and New Year holidays, Cabinet has directed that all learners at boarding schools remain at their respective schools during the Independence holiday in order to avoid travel congestion and minimise chances of contracting the virus. All school heads, without exception, are required to observe this directive, which is in the national interest.

National Youth Service Training Programme

Cabinet considered and approved the re-establishment of the National Youth Service Training Programme proposal which was presented by the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Honourable Kirsty Coventry.

The proposal came as a result of consultations between the Ministries of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation; and Defence and War Veterans Affairs. Cabinet noted that National Youth Service is an important youth development programme which is crucial in nurturing young people into becoming responsible and resilient citizens with a clear sense of national identity and respect for national values.

The programme is a key strategy for youth empowerment in national, regional, continental and international development guiding frameworks to which Zimbabwe is a member.

The frameworks include the SADC Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan; the African Youth Charter of 2006; the World Programme of Action on Youth; and the United Nations Youth Strategy 2030.

The programme is designed to equip youths, who comprise persons between the ages of 18 and 35 years with patriotism, discipline, volunteerism, survival skills, hard work, loyalty, tolerance, resilience, determination and honesty.

During training the youths will be encouraged to participate in development projects and disaster response activities and thereby assist in enhancing national capacity to manage disasters.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (Number 20) Act provides that all institutions and agencies of Government at all levels must take reasonable measures, including affirmative action, to ensure that youths have access to appropriate education and training, that they participate in social, economic and other spheres of life, and that they are empowered and protected from harmful practices, exploitation and abuse.

Cabinet further agreed that under the revamped programme, Vocational Training Centres across all the provinces will focus on entrepreneurship and livelihood skills training.

This will encompass enterprise awareness, opportunity identification, project financing, and basic farming.

The Civil Protection Unit will place emphasis on disaster mitigation and management skills.

The roll-out of the National Youth Service Programme will involve community attachment of youths for work experience and service to various Government departments and local authorities.

Graduates of the programme will qualify for further training, assistance in starting businesses, and for enrolment for careers in the police, the army, the air force, nursing and teaching, among others.

The Programme will also take on board the disabled, and maintain gender balance and fair regional representation, with recruitment taking place through District Offices.

Cabinet further resolved that the National Youth Service Programme will be funded by Government, upon enactment of the necessary law.

The programme shall also be mandated to generate its own income through engagement in commercial activities.

The youths will not pay fees but will be provided with uniforms, training kits and travel expenses, and will be accorded allowances as the economy improves. More details on the implementation modalities of the policy will be provided as the programme unfolds.

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

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

Cabinet is pleased to advise that Government is awaiting delivery of 600 000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines following completion of procurement processes. In addition, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development has granted authority to purchase 5 million more doses of vaccines.

Cabinet also wishes to report that as at 12 April 2021, 234 709 people have received their first dose of the vaccine, while 29 304 received their second dose.

Steps are being taken to increase the number of people to be vaccinated across the provinces, particularly in hotspot areas in Matabeleland South, Mashonaland West, Harare and Manicaland Provinces.

Cabinet also advises that printing of the new Covid-19 Vaccination cards with security features is on course, and the World Health Organisation is working on a platform to store vaccination data for use internationally.

Following reports on the lack of radiotherapy services in the southern region, Cabinet is pleased to announce that the Mpilo Radiotherapy Centre is now functional. The Centre will cover the Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Masvingo, Midlands and Matabeleland South provinces.

Memorandum Of Understanding between the Republic Of Zimbabwe and the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation

Cabinet considered and approved the Memorandum of Understanding between the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Russian Federation State Atomic Energy Corporation, which was presented by the Attorney General on behalf of the chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Legislation

The Memorandum seeks to facilitate higher level co-operation between the two countries in the use of nuclear energy, by laying a foundation for the execution of the agreed areas of co-operation.

Joint Working Groups will be established to identify specific projects to facilitate the co-operation, including exploring the feasibility of constructing a centre for nuclear science and technology.

Zimbabwe has not be spared from the impact of climate change which has, among other effects, seen the decline of water levels in Lake Kariba.

Alternate source of energy will remove dependence on Lake Kariba.

The anticipated co-operation in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes will provide alternative sources of energy which Zimbabwe needs.

Update on the implementation of the 6th 100-Day Cycle Projects and Preparations for the 7th Cycle of the Second Republic

To protect communal livestock which has been under threat from diseases, the Department of Veterinary Services embarked on a project to produce 4,5 million Newcastle disease vaccine doses and administered 4 million vaccinations to communal poultry countrywide.

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 Mines and Mining Development; Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare; National Housing and Social Amenities; and Primary and Secondary Education.

Mines and Mining Development

The Ministry seeks to promote sustainable exploration, mining, beneficiation, value addition, marketing and management of mineral resources for the benefit of all Zimbabweans. The deliverables of the Ministry will encompass improving the country's ease of doing business ranking as well as business earnings from beneficiated and value added minerals.

Under policy and administration, the Ministry will ensure the following: amendment of the Mines and Minerals Act; the Gold Trade Act; and the Precious Stones Act; development of a Minerals Development Policy, an Artisanal Small Scale Gold Mining Strategy, and a Beneficiation and Value Addition Strategy.

The Ministry will also establish private sector-led chrome to ferrochrome processing facilities and coal to coke processing plants while facilities for locally cut and polished diamonds will be prioritised.

Private sector-led service centres will also be established, while the Mining Cadastre Information Management System will be operationalised.

A Mining Industry Loan Fund will be established to capacitate small scale miners.

Prospecting will be enhanced, new mines opened, existing mines expanded and closed mines such as Shabani-Mashava will be re-opened.

National Housing and Social Amenities

The Ministry's main thrust will be to lead in the provision of human settlements in a coordinated and sustainable manner through the facilitation and promotion of functional housing and social amenities for all. The Ministry's deliverables include improved and well planned human settlements, as well as improved access to affordable and quality housing and social amenities.

The Ministry will develop urban housing and social amenities focusing on settlement densification, urban regeneration and regularisation of informal and dysfunctional settlements.

In the rural areas, focus will be on provision of water and sanitation in schools, clinics and the community in general, while a model for modern and affordable houses will be developed. Smart City development concepts will be prioritised so as to encourage urban to rural migration by providing housing and social amenities in Rural District Councils and at Growth Points.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare

The Mission of the Ministry is to promote quality and inclusive public service delivery, employment promotion, efficient labour administration and sustainable social protection for socio-economic transformation. The Ministry is mandated to improve access to inclusive social protection and increased decent jobs. Improved child care and protection will be fostered through the following projects/programmes: expansion of child protection services; strengthening of the National Care Management System for the care and protection of orphans and vulnerable children, Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM); social assistance to persons with disability; harmonised social cash transfer; and food deficit mitigation.

The Ministry will improve industrial relations through social dialogue, labour dispute settlement and job and income security will be enhanced through the social insurance programme; formalisation of the informal sector, and the unemployment benefit scheme.

Primary and Secondary Education

The Ministry is mandated to provide equitable, quality, inclusive, relevant and competence-driven primary, secondary and non-formal education. The Ministry's deliverables encompass improving governance and access to quality, equitable and inclusive education. It also seeks to increase uptake and application of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM). Other areas of focus entail improving research, development and innovation; vocational skills and entrepreneurship among the youth and citizens; and access to affordable quality education.

The Ministry will promote commercial ventures in schools through utilisation of land and space available to schools.

The public schools will engage in commercial activities through fostering joint ventures with private investors. A Business Development Unit will be established at the Ministry's Head Office to supervise, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the schools commercial venture project.

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