Zimbabwe: Covid-19 Infections Among Learners Decrease

27 October 2021

Cabinet received an update on the country's response to the Covid-19, procurement and roll-out of vaccines which was presented by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable, Dr CGDN Chiwenga, as chairman of the Ministers' National Committee.

The nation is advised that as at October 25, 2021, the country's cumulative Covid-19 cases stood at 132 688 with 127 433 recoveries and 4673 deaths. The recovery rate was 96 percent with 582 active cases reported.

A total of 303 cases were reported as compared to the 572 the previous week, showing a 47 percent decrease. This is an indication that the national response efforts continue to bear positive results in containing the pandemic.

Regarding the national vaccination programme, as at October 22, 2021, a total of 3 275 033 first doses had been administered, while 2 545 717 people had received their second dose.

The nation is also being advised that the number of new Covid-19 infections among learners in schools continue to decrease. Movement of boarders during term time as well as general non-compliance with the standard operating procedures for the prevention and management of Covid-19 and other influenza-like illnesses in the primary and secondary education sectors has contributed to outbreaks in schools.

It has been observed that some private schools are not fully observing of the provisions of the Education Act as evidenced by the continued practice of allowing parents to withdraw boarders from school for exeat weekend or for half term school breaks during the pandemic, and that enforcement of the Public Health Act on such unsanctioned movement of learners during the pandemic will be evoked and strengthened.

Cabinet also noted the need to ramp up vaccination to attain the national herd immunity by year end as targeted. To this end, a programme of activities and schedule is being compiled in consultation with all relevant stakeholders. The public will be kept abreast of the developments. Government urges all citizens and urges all citizens who are yet to be inoculated to present themselves for vaccination.

Proposed introduction of the National Health Service Training and Induction Modules under the Public Service Academy

Cabinet considered and approved the proposed introduction of the National Health Service Training and Induction Modules under the Public Service Academy as presented by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Honourable Professor P Mavima as chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee.

The public will recall that, at its 28th meeting, Cabinet agreed that the National Health Service Training and Induction be developed. It is in line with this directive that the modules will be introduced.

The envisaged training programmes will therefore equip healthcare workers with correct standard operating procedures in the discharge of their duties, improved and efficient management skills, and patriotism that promote transparency, accountability and good governance and a high performance work culture that goes beyond the call of duty.

In more detail, the modules will cover the following areas that are essential for health personnel to execute their duties:

Public Health Service Orientation (to include areas on National Heritage and patriotism, Vision 2030, legal/policy framework governing the health sector);

Management Skills Development (to include such areas as transformational leadership, finance management, corporate governance);

Conflict Management; and

Tailor-made courses on such areas as gender, diversity and sexual harassment, asset inventory, procurement and contract management.

Progress report on the revamping of the passport office

Cabinet considered and noted the progress report on the revamping of the Passport Office which was presented by the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Honourable Kazembe Kazembe.

The nation will recall that during its ninth meeting, Cabinet approved a strategy by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage to clear the country's passport backlog that had accumulated to over 400 000 by August 2020.

It is pleasing to note that the backlog has since been reduced to the current 184 000. It is anticipated that the backlog would have been cleared by the end of December 2021.

Cabinet also wishes to report that the implementation of a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer agreement with Garsu Pasaulis, a Lithuanian company on an e-passport production project is well on course with the aim of boosting production of passports, identification cards and birth certificates. Significant progress has been registered as follows:

Approval of the final design of the Zimbabwean e-passport which will be fully-compliant with the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Commencement of renovations at the Harare Passport enrolment centre, at the Civil Registry Building on 18 October 2021 while the Bulawayo Passport enrolment centre will commence on the 27 October 2021. After the completion of these two sites ,focus will then be shifted to other remaining cities, satellite centres and designated embassies.

As a result of these interventions, it is envisaged that the cost of passports will be significantly reduced by December, 2021.

Update on Mobile Registration

The mobile registration exercise that was taking place in Bikita, Tsholotsho and Bulilima districts came to an end on the 13th of October 2021, with a total of 10 685 national identification cards and 8 250 birth certificates having been issued. Focus will now shift to other disadvantaged communities, including Binga and vulnerable communities along the borders of the country.

Update on the wheat marketing season and preparations for the 2021/2022 summer production season

Cabinet received an update on the Wheat Marketing and Summer Crops Production Season, which was presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Honourable Dr Anxious J Masuka.

The nation is advised that as at 24 October 2021, grain intake stood at 1 164 274 metric tones, comprising 83 684 metric tonnes of wheat and 1 080 590 metric tonnes of maize, soyabean and traditional grains. Regarding farmer payments, a total of $ 1 billion was received from Treasury last week and cumulative receipts now amount to $36,059 billion. Grain delivered to date is valued at $ 40,574 billion, giving an outstanding balance of $4.51 billion.

On CBZ Agro-Yield/Command Agriculture Programme preparations for the summer cropping season, the nation is advised that currently CBZ Agro-Yield has 18 000 onnes and 15 000 tonnes of basal and top dressing fertilizers, respectively. Seed is adequately available. Farmers can promptly collect seed from SeedCo and K2. CBZ is in the process of finalising inputs supply agreements with ARDA Seeds, Syngenta and Torcek.

Regarding the planting of tobacco, some 105 528 farmers have registered for the 2021/22 tobacco season compared to 102 098 farmers that had registered at the same time last year, representing a 3 percent increase. The area planted is 28 percent above that planted last year, because of an enlarged irrigated crop.

Meanwhile, seed cotton marketing has tailed-off with very few common buying points still to conclude transactions.

Seed cotton deliveries to the six contractors have reached 132 132 384 kg compared to 83 059 898 kg last year, representing a 59.1 percent increase. The value of the seed cotton delivered to date is $6,384 billion.

Cottco has paid a total of $2,9 billion to farmers, including US$ 3 912 500.Payments to date are 39 percent of total requirement. Farmers are yet to be paid a total of $3,466 billion for seed cotton delivered to Cottco during the 2020/2021 season. As at October 25, 2021, Treasury had availed $500 million towards payment of cotton farmers. The payment process has been set in motion.

Regarding the Presidential Climate-Proofed Cotton Pfumvudza/Intwasa Scheme for the 2021/2022 season, the trained farmers are 36 percent of the targeted 520 000 growers.

Outstanding payments are slowing uptake of cotton production. Measures are being put in place to expedite inputs deliveries in particular the first tranche comprising seed, basal fertiliser and chemicals.

Reports on the 8th 100-day cycle of the Second Republic

Cabinet adopted reports on the 8th 100-Day Cycle of the Second Republic, which were tabled by the following Ministers:

◆ The Minister of Industry and Commerce, Honourable Dr Sekai Nzenza;

◆ The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Honourable Dr Frederick Makamure Shava;

◆ The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Honourable Ziyambi Ziyambi;

◆ The Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Honourable Dr Sithembiso Nyoni; and

◆ The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes, Honourable Dr Joram Gumbo.

1. The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes highlighted the projects which the District Development Fund (DDF) had implemented during the 8th 100-Day Cycle under six critical areas, namely: bridges, roads, water supply, irrigation schemes, dams and boreholes.

1.1 Under bridge construction, Mpempedzi Bridge in Gutu in Masvingo Province is 98 percent complete, Gunguhwe in Gokwe North of Midlands Province is at 75 percent completion and Somhlolo in Lupane of Matebeleland Province is 71 percent complete.

1.2.Under road maintenance, the targeted gravelling of 10km of the Karoi-Binga detour road in Hurungwe was completed. Similarly, the targeted 8km of the Nyakasikana-Masango-Karanda Road in Mt Darwin, in Mashonaland Central Province were gravelled and surfacing of the road is now underway. 30km of the targeted 50 km of the Sentinel-Shashe-Toporo Road in Beitbridge Matebeleland South Province was reshaped while in Buhera, of Manicaland Province 96 km of the Nyazvidzi Parallel Road were graded and 13km of the targeted 20km has been spot-gravelled.

1.3. Regarding irrigation scheme rehabilitation, replacement of the vandalized transformer at Lazernby Scheme in Zvimba, Mashonaland West which will benefit 240 households, is at advanced stages of completion. Construction of canals at Chigondo Scheme in Mashonaland East is in progress, with the project set to benefit 50 households. Pipes to the main line are being fitted at Chigodora Scheme in Manicaland Province, which is set to benefit 50 households.

1.4.Under dam rehabilitation, rehabilitation of the Gariya dam wall in Tsholotsho, Matebeleland North Province was completed, while under borehole drilling, 144 boreholes were sited, 83 drilled and 28 installed. A total of 208 boreholes were rehabilitated, while 1 215 were maintained.

2. The Minister of Industry and Commerce reported that the following progress has been recorded for projects in her sector:

2.1 The Zimbabwe Phosphates Industries (Zimphos) new granular plant in Harare is on course for completion as scheduled, with the targeted manufacturing of the relevant equipment by the manufacturer having commenced. The Zimphos new blending plant is also on course.

2.2 Resuscitation of G&W Industrial Minerals in Rushinga is progressing well with its completion expected by end of November, 2021.

2.3 Pursuant to the launch of the Leather Value Chain Strategy, a new processing plant is being installed at Zambezi Tanners in Bulawayo, with the company having assembled the requisite machinery and now installing the auxiliary feeds and extensions to the machine.

2.4 ZimChem Refiners has completed the refurbishment of its boiler in Kwekwe, and the company remains on track to increase capacity utilisation in the production of tar and creosote.

2.5 National Blankets (Pvt) Ltd has managed to service its machines, refurbish the building housing the machines, and is now producing as per order, and are in the process of re-establishing their previous markets.

2.6 The technology upgrade of the Central African Batteries plant and machinery has helped reduce the occurrence of rejects during production from a rate of 4.5 percent to 0.2 percent.

2.7 With support from Treasury, the Consumer Protection Act has so far been translated into Shona and Ndebele, and translation into the remaining national languages is ongoing.

3. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade highlighted the following progress for projects under his purview:

3.1 The SADC Anti-Sanctions Day, was successfully held yesterday October 25, 2021 under the theme "Friend to all, Enemy to none: Forging Ahead and Enhancing Innovation and Productivity in Adversity of Sanctions". His Excellency the President, Cde E.D. Mnangagwa, issued a special message to mark the day. Various activities were held in all provinces capped by the Anti-Sanctions Show, which featured music, dance and speeches organised by the Ministry of Infornation, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.

Zimbabwean Embassies across the globe held various anti-sanctions activities in Algeria, Tanzania, Malawi, Botswana, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Kenya, Cuba and the United States of America.

3.2 The Minister also reported that 4 Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPAs) have passed the initial stages of approval and are now undergoing the subsequent stages. Preparations are on course for the inaugural Zimbabwe-Namibia Bi-National Commission. A tour of the French, Belgian and Italian capitals was successfully conducted from 29 September to October 12,2021 as part of the engagement and re-engagement drive.

3.3 Under Consular Services Rendered, a total of 4 260 individuals were assisted on a number of consular issues, such as authentication of documents, passports and birth application forms, and repatriation in line with the Ministry's Mission statement of "protecting the interest of Zimbabwean nationals abroad".

3.4 Under Trade, Investment and Diaspora Engagement:

- a Manual for Economic and Commercial Diplomacy is being produced.

- The Rwanda Trade and Investment Conference was successfully held from 27 to 30 September, 2021, with agreements having been signed in the following areas: ICT and e-Governance; Environment and Climate Change; Agriculture and Livestock; and Tourism and Business.

- Engagement of the diaspora continued with the following notable events undertaken: Honourable Vice President C.G.D.N. Chiwenga officiated at the Diaspora Business Forum on the side-lines of the Expo 2020 Dubai on 11 October 2021; the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade officiated at the ZITF Diaspora Forum on 23 September 2021; and the Dallas (USA) Diaspora Forum was successfully held from 2 to 6 September, 2021.

4. The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs reported the following progress for projects under his purview:

4.1 Construction of the Lupane Magistrates Court is progressing well, with the installation of the roof trusses and covers as well as plastering having been completed.

4.2 The targeted 50 hectares were put under winter wheat at Ridigita Prison Farm in Marondera and targeted 200 tonnes are set to be achieved. Similarly, the 80 hectares of wheat at Hurungwe Prison Farm are on course to produce the targeted 320 metric tonnes of wheat. The Hurungwe Prison Farm is also on course to meet the set production targets of butternuts, spinach, tomatoes, cabbages, green pepper and watermelon.

4.3 The Chikurubi Maximum Prison/ Dog Training School/ Gunhill Staff Housing Project which seeks to construct 30 blocks of 4-rooms per block is progressing well and the set targets are expected to be achieved.

5. The Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development highlighted the following progress for projects being implemented in her sector:

5.1 Twenty out of the targeted thirty women's groups were funded by the Women Development Fund in Mashonaland Central, Matabeleland South and Mashonaland West. The remaining ten groups were pre-assessed and now await funding.

5.2 500 copies of the Gender Mainstreaming Guidelines were printed and disseminated to 6 of the targeted 10 provinces.

5.3 Under the Zimbabwe Community Development Fund, a total of 8 projects have had the loans they applied for disbursed, while 30 projects were pre-assessed, 20 of which have been approved for funding.

5.4 The targeted Online Cooperative Registration and Name Search System is now in the user testing phase, with the system having been installed in Harare for which data inputting has commenced.

6.0 THIRD CYCLE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW REPORT TO THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE

The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs presented Zimbabwe's 3rd Cycle Universal Periodic Review Report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which was approved by Cabinet.

The nation is informed that the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) involves the evaluation of the human rights situations of all United Nations member States once every four years. Zimbabwe has so far undergone two cycles of the Universal Periodic Review, in 2012 and 2016, respectively. The 3rd Cycle Universal Periodic Review outlines the measures that have been undertaken by Zimbabwe during the review period (2016 to October 2021) to promote, respect and fulfill human rights obligations.

The Report highlights the developments in the advancement of human rights that have taken place in Zimbabwe during the review period as well as progress made in facilitating the full enjoyment of the rights. It reflects the domestic laws that have been re-aligned to the Constitution and promulgated.

Zimbabwe has made positive efforts to create an enabling policy environment for the improvement of public health through, among others, the promulgation of the National Health Strategy and robust HIV and Covid-19 response strategies. The budgetary allocation to the health sector has been increasing over the years, with the ZW$54 billion allocated in the 2021 Budget representing 13% of the national budget. The mortality rate of those in the 15 to 49 year age group also continues to decline, having been recorded at 6.28 deaths per 1 000 females and 6.09 deaths per 1 000 males in 2019. This is a notable drop when compared to the 2014 mortality rate of 9.84 deaths per 1 000 females and 9.79 males per 1 000 males. The advent of the Covid-19 Outbreak enhanced investment in the health sector.

In terms of access to food, Government has since 2010 been implementing the Food Deficit Mitigation Programme, a social protection programme which provides food and cash assistance to food insecure households and other vulnerable groups. To ensure food security, Government has, among others, implemented the following programmes to increase production in agricultural sector: Command Agriculture, Mechanization of Agriculture, Climate Smart Agriculture or Pfumvudza/Intwasa Programme, Small Grain Production Programme, Livestock Development Programme, and the Irrigation Development and Rehabilitation Programme. The Food and Nutrition Security situation is constantly monitored through the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC).

The other sections of the Zimbabwe's 3rd Cycle Universal Periodic Review Report review progress made in the implementation of the following:

- Administration of Justice;

- Birth Registration;

- Conditions of Prisons and Police Holding Cells;

- Trafficking in Persons;

- Women's Rights;

- Children's Rights;

- Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

- Media;

- Financial, Technical and Other Cooperation Assistance; and

- Cooperation with Civil Society Organisations and Other Stakeholders.

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