In Full: 31st Post-Cabinet Press Briefing 14th September 2021

  • UPDATE BY THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE AD-HOC INTER-MINISTERIAL TASK FORCE ON THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK

Cabinet received an update on the country’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which was presented by the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs as Chairperson of the Ad-hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on COVID-19.

As at 13 September, 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 126 399, with 119 049 recoveries and 4 543 deaths. The recovery rate stands at 92%. The number of active cases stands at 2 807.

Cabinet noted that there was a 35% decrease in the number of infections with 719 cases having been recorded during the week under review, compared to the 1 113 reported the previous week. This reflects that the infection prevention and control measures are yielding results, and the citizenry is urged to remain vigilant and adhere to measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Cabinet further wishes to inform the nation that there was a decrease in the number of people in need of hospitalization for COVID-19. The bed occupancy rate was 6.9% during the review week, compared to the 10% recorded during the previous week.

The nation is informed that 79 learners and 20 teachers tested positive for COVID-19 during the week under review, thereby bringing the total under of confirmed cases in schools to 132. All active cases are isolated and managed by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

On school attendance by learners, the average learner turnout increased from the previously recorded 73.3% to 76.2%, while that of teachers was at 85.5%.

Cabinet discussed the request by churches for a review of number of congregants allowed in church services to at least a third, taking into account the size of the church. Whilst all other gatherings shall not exceed 100 persons, with regards to churches, Cabinet has resolved that only vaccinated congregants can attend and should be limited to 50% of the holding capacity of the Church.

Cabinet would like to appreciate the open communication that exists between Government and all stakeholders across the socio-economic stratum of Zimbabwe, and would like to assure the nation that any member or group of persons may make representations to the Cabinet Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on COVID-19 on any related matters, but may not be members of the same.

Persuant to the previous announcement that all civil servants should be vaccinated, Cabinet further resolved that no unvaccinated civil servants will be allowed to come to work.

While Cabinet previously approved the resumption of low risk sporting activities, it has further resolved that all sport codes can resume. Their operating hours have been adjusted to between 0600-2000 hours in order to accommodate the working population.

2.0   PROGRESS REPORT ON THE PROCUREMENT AND ROLL-OUT OF COVID-19 VACCINES

Cabinet received an update on the procurement and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, which was presented by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable C.G.D.N. Chiwenga.

Cabinet is informing the nation that as of 13 September, 2021, a total of 2 856 955 persons had received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 1 894 780 had received the second dose. This translates to a national coverage of 33.4% and 21.9% for the first and second doses, respectively. Cabinet is concerned about the low uptake of the vaccine in Mashonaland Central and Chitungwiza Town and every effort is being made to encourage citizens to be vaccinated as this is for the good of us all.

The country has received a total of 10 860 000 doses of vaccine to date. The latest receipt was of 1 500 000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine received between 10 and 12 September, 2021. A further 1 million doses of Sinovac vaccine are is expected to be received today. The country also received 4 million syringes.

Cabinet commiserates with the families and friends of the health workers who passed on during the three waves of COVID-19. A total of 5 366 health workers were affected by the disease. Government would like to express its gratitude to the health workers who worked resolutely and steadfastly in saving lives during the waves of COVID-19. His Excellency the President has led the nation in observing a minute of silence in respect to the departed health workers.

3.0 MID-CENTURY LOW GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY 2020-2050

Cabinet received and noted the Mid-Century Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy 2020-2050 presented by the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Hon. July Moyo, as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Environment, Disaster Prevention and Management.

The nation is informed that, Zimbabwe is a member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), whose major objective is the stabilisation of greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. These gases contribute to climate change. This objective is being fulfilled through the Paris Agreement of 2015 on Climate Change, which mandates all countries to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Each country is required to set itself targets as to how it proposes to reduce emissions and these targets are then reviewed every five years.

The major thrust of developing Low Emission Development Strategies by UNFCCC member countries is to shift from the traditional fossil fuel-based development to greener and sustainable pathways, including enhanced use of renewable energy, and the adoption of green industries and climate smart agriculture.

Zimbabwe has developed proposals on costed economy-wide Low Emission Development Strategy as a response to the provisions of the Paris Agreement. The Strategy is Vision 2030 compliant, and contains implementable sustainable climate change mitigation actions, covering four (4) sectors of the economy, namely:

  1. Energy;
  2. Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Uses (AFOLU);
  • Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU); and
  1. Waste Management.

It should be pointed out that the country has done a lot more in terms of carbon sinking through the various afforestation and reforestation programmes, conservation agriculture (Pfumvudza/Intwasa) and emitting less on its growth trajectory towards Vision 2030. The implementation of renewable energy projects in the country and use of more efficient low emission technologies in thermal power plants reflects Government’s commitment towards reduction in emissions.

The draft LEDS has identified 38 mitigation actions across the four Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) recognised sectors, and implementation of the mitigation actions will result in 40% reduction in emissions. Zimbabwe is currently emitting 0,05% of all green house emissions which is lower than what the country is capturing.

His Excellency the President is expected to attend the Conference of Parties (COP 26) meeting in the United Kingdom where he will lead a Zimbabwean delegation and present the country’s mitigation measures and adaptation actions.

  • STATE OF PREPAREDNESS FOR HOSTING THE 61ST EDITION OF THE ZIMBABWE INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR (ZITF)

The Minister of Industry and Commerce, Honourable Sekai Nzenza, presented the State of Preparedness for Hosting the 61st Edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).

Cabinet wishes to inform the public that the theme of the 61st Edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair is “Showcasing the New Normal for Business and Industry: Realities and Opportunities”. The Fair will run for four days from 21 to 24 September, 2021. The first three days will be Business Days, and the following are the highlights:

  • the Vice President, Hon. C.G.D.N. Chiwenga will deliver the keynote address at the ZITF International Business Conference, which will be on 22 September, 2021;
  • His Excellency the President will officially open the Fair on 23 September, 2021, and attendance will be strictly by invitation to manage numbers;
  • the Zim-Diplomats Forum is scheduled for 23 September, 2021 and hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The function aims at engaging locally-based foreign diplomats on the ongoing measures by Government to facilitate investment; and
  • 24 September, 2021 will be a Public day and no children will be allowed entry.

The third edition of the ZITF Innovators’ Forum will be held on 21 to 22 September, 2021. The Forum will target innovators drawn from Innovation Hubs of the local universities, and will present students with an opportunity to showcase their innovations to address real life challenges.

396 local exhibitors, as well as international exhibitors from eleven (11) countries have already confirmed participation. International exhibitors are from Malawi; Tanzania; Namibia; Botswana; Nigeria; Indonesia; South Africa; Belarus; Kenya; Mauritius; and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Given that the Fair is being held during COVID-19 times, the nation is advised that an elaborate COVID-19 Risk Management Plan has been produced and circulated to all exhibitors. There will be heightened health and safety protocols, modified venue layouts, digital and hybrid meeting platforms and emphasis on numbers management.p

  • ZIMBABWE’S REVISED NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTION

Cabinet received and approved the proposed Zimbabwe’s Nationally Determined Contributions which was presented by the Minister of Local Government and Public Works.

The proposed revised Nationally Determined Contribution identified seventeen mitigation strategies contributing 40% per capita emission reduction by 2030 and four adaptation strategies to be implemented across all the sectors of the economy.

The four adaptation strategies are as follows: develop, implement and scale-up climate smart agriculture solutions including strengthening agricultural value chains and markets; enhance early warning and climate-related disaster risk reduction systems; ensure climate resilient infrastructure designs and development; and develop and promote climate resilient water resources management. 

6.0   ADMINISTRATIVE JUSTICE AMENDMENT BILL 2021
Cabinet considered and approved the Administrative Justice Amendment Bill, 2021, which was presented by the Attorney-General.

The purpose of the Administrative Justice Amendment Bill is to align the Administrative Justice Act to the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act 2013 and consequently establish a more effective and efficient administrative justice delivery system impacting positively on the principles of good governance.

7.0   MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE AND THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY ON JOINT VENTURE IN TRANSPORT.

Cabinet received and approved the memorandum of understanding between the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Republic of Turkey on Joint Venture in Transport which was presented by the Attorney-General.

The agreement seeks to strengthen bilateral agreements on National Railways of Zimbabwe. The benefits of the MOU include recapitalisation of NRZ, modernization of the rail and aviation infrastructure among others. This blends very well with the drive for international engagement and the mantra that indeed Zimbabwe is open for business.

8.0   REPORT ON TACKLING THE SUBSTANCE ABUSE MENACE AMONG YOUTHS
Following the setting up of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on addressing substance abuse menace among the youth, Cabinet considered and approved the report which was presented by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Hon. P. Mavima as the Chair of the Inter-Ministerial Committee.

Regarding the response to the menace, a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach has been adopted in order to arrest the situation. This includes intensification of prevention, harm reduction, treatment, rehabilitation, reduction of demand and elimination of supply and availability of illicit and over the counter substances and drugs on the market. The capacities, efficiency and activities of the police, justice and customs department will be complemented and strengthened.

Cabinet noted with satisfaction the swift response by the country’s security forces which has resulted in the arrest of over 200 culprits involved in the trade of illicit substances and drug lords.  These will face the full wrath of the law.

Cabinet wishes to advise the public that in the short term the following measures are being taken to deal with the scourge of substance abuse among others:

  1. operationalization of the Zimbabwe National Drug Master Plan (ZNDMP 2020 to 2025) and Treatment and Rehabilitation Guidelines of Alcohol and Substance Use Disorder of Zimbabwe (TRGASUD ZIM)
  1. Identifying and upgrading existing mental health institutions that can admit affected children, youths and adults including a dedicated child psychiatric hospital in each province until they have recovered
  • The Operation Clean up Harare Ghetto will continue and be code named Operation Clean Up Zimbabwe and extended to every part of the country with a focus to frustrating the activities of the criminal groups and neutralize drug and substance abuse
  1. Identifying and improving Community Based activities including establishment of parent support groups and patient support groups.

In the medium term the following strategies will be implemented:

  1. Review of the National Policy on Drug and Substance abuse and amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act which is up to date with the current illicit drug being abused in the country to increase penalties on drug and substance abuse sentencing.
  1. Establish a National Call Centre for drug and substance abuse which will provide online psychosocial support and related information.
  • Opening of Youth Centres and increasing empowerment opportunities for the youth and strengthening their vocational training programmes.
  1. Establishment of family support structures and facilities to address the negative impacts of substance and drug addiction on the immediate and extended family, for example, family clubs, churches and faith-based organisations. All local authorities to revive and expand the provision of youth clubs and other positive recreational facilities.
  1. Training workshops for supervisors and other relevant personnel to prevent and deal with substance abuse in the workplace.
  1. The media to play a critical role in increasing outreach and awareness raising through theatre, arts, edutainment, music and other multimedia platforms.

In the long term, the Integrated Skills Outreach Programme (ISOP) which is spearheaded by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development will be strengthened, while the public is urged to take advantage of the Non-Formal Education programme under the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

In addition, a study to establish the extent of drug use and abuse among youths as well as to identify the causes of the problem in order to come up with precise interventions address will also research, document and disseminate information on drugs and related issues in Zimbabwe.