1. Inaugural e-Cabinet Meeting
His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde E.D. Mnangagwa, led Cabinet in launching the e-Cabinet Solution. The new paperless platform on which Cabinet will henceforth conduct its weekly meetings comes as one of the flagship e-Government projects to be completed by the Government of the Second Republic.
The occasion of the launch, which preceded the normal Cabinet meeting, marked a very significant step in the adoption of digital methods of running Government operations. As a nation, we endeavour to enhance service delivery to citizens through electronic means.
Furthermore, the e-Cabinet system symbolises close collaboration between Government and private sector partners in the adoption and implementation of electronic platforms for transforming interactions with citizens, investors and other nations. With the year 2020 heralding an era of productivity, economic growth and employment creation, information communication technologies and innovation will create an environment that is conducive for inclusive growth and productivity.
Cabinet will therefore utilise the new paperless system to accelerate the implementation of policies and programmes within the 100-Day management cycles. Turning to the business before Cabinet, while noting the progress registered by the Second Republic, particularly the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), His Excellency the President acknowledged the challenges that the people had bravely endured.
He then laid out the business for 2020 based on set principles.
He stated that the year 2020 heralded the era of productivity, economic growth and employment creation. His Excellency the President reiterated that as Cabinet, our immediate priority must be to guarantee food security and directed that all efforts be focused on that front. He further directed all ministers, accounting officers and senior officers spend more time with communities in the countryside, implementing and monitoring key Government programmes that yield a better quality of life for all citizens.
Greater impetus must be placed on arresting inflation and consolidating the mono-currency regime. The growth of tourism sector should be stimulated through cross-cutting alliances, competitive products as well as pricing regimes. The security sector is bided to urgently bring to an end the current scourge of violence by the unruly machete-wielding gangs and malcontents.
2. Principles for the Proposed
Amendment to the Electricity Act [Chapter 13:19] to introduce Stiffer
Penalties for Crimes Related to Electricity Theft, the Destruction of and Tampering with Electricity
Cabinet considered and approved the Principles for the Proposed Amendment to the Electricity Act [Chapter 13:19] to introduce Stiffer Penalties for Crimes Related to Electricity Theft, the Destruction of and Tampering with Electricity Infrastructure, which was presented by the Minister of Energy and Power Development. ZESA has been experiencing increased incidents of vandalism including the theft of transformer oil and copper cable conductors. The thefts have resulted in ZESA incurring huge expenses in replacing the vandalised property, while the impact on business has been astronomic.
To date, more than 927 transformers have either been vandalised or stolen in the Northern Region, 625 in the Western Region, 525 in Harare Region and 94 in the Eastern Region. The salient features of the amendments will encompass the following: a) reviewing the current penalty regime for identified offences in order to make the penalties more deterrent; b) classifying such offences under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23], which governs heinous crimes, including rape and murder; c) compelling courts to impose mandatory sentences, as opposed to the option of fines, which may not be deterrent enough. For instance, tampering without lawful excuse with any apparatus for generating, transmitting, distributing or supplying electricity with the result that any supply of electricity is cut off or interrupted, which used to attract an imprisonment of not less than 10 years, will, under the amended law attract not less than 30 years of imprisonment.
Government will from time to time review such penalties to make them more deterrent to would-be offenders. Over and above the stiffer penalties, Government will also ensure that adequate surveillance machinery is put in place to apprehend offenders, including through installation of electronic gadgets to detect the crimes.
3. Report on Zimbabwe’s
Participation at the Fiftieth Edition of the World Economic Forum
Cabinet received an update from the Minister of Finance and Economic Development on Zimbabwe’s participation at the 50th edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF) which was held in Davos, Switzerland, from 20th to 24th January, 2020. The Forum was held under the theme “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”. World leaders; government officials, business leaders, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), religious leaders and academics discussed emerging socio-economic challenges facing humanity.
The meeting urged companies to pay their fair share of taxes, exhibit zero tolerance for corruption, uphold human rights throughout their global supply chains and advocate for a competitive level playing field. As delegation leader, Honourable Mthuli Ncube, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, hosted a successful Zimbabwe Investment Forum in Zurich on Zimbabwe’s economic opportunities. Businesspersons from Switzerland and parts of Europe attended the event.
The Zimbabwe delegation assured its audience of the continual improvement in conditions for doing business.
4. Update on the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF)
Cabinet received a progress report on the implementation of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) from the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
Following the promulgation of the TNF Act on 5 June 2019, the TNF held its inaugural meeting on 26th June 2019 and mandated its technical committee to deliberate on key socio-economic issues affecting the country and came up with recommendations for consideration by the main TNF. The Technical Committee also developed the Terms of Reference for the clusters, which in turn came up with the following recommendations:
The cluster made recommendations on the following:
- the need to develop monetary and fiscal policies that target inflation reduction;
- the need to enhance foreign currency mobilisation and management; and
- the need to carry out institutional reforms that promote productivity.
Labour Market Cluster
The cluster made recommendations on the following:
- full operationalisation of the TNF and Zimbabwe National Productivity Institute;
- expedite Labour Law reform and harmonisation;
- formulating a New Employment Policy as well as an Incomes Policy;
- developing initiatives for the mitigation of erosion of salaries and wages; and
- labour broking.
The cluster made recommendations on the following:
- revamping the country’s social services delivery system;
- improving relations between Government and trade union representatives;
expediting the implementation of Kadoma Declaration “Towards a Shared National Economic and Social Vision”; and
- conclusion of a Social Contract.
The main TNF meeting will be held on Wednesday, 5 February 2020 at NSSA House, to consider the recommendations by the Technical Committee meeting, after which a report will be tabled to Cabinet for its consideration.
In attendance at the meeting will be the following ministers: Finance and Economic Development (Government Leader); Energy and Power Development; Health and Child Care; Industry and Commerce; Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement; and Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.
5. Update on the Country’s Power Supply Situation
Cabinet received an update on the country’s power supply situation, which the Minister of Energy and Power Development presented. Cabinet noted that electricity generation at the country’s major hydropower plant at Kariba remains depressed owing to low inflows into the lake in the wake of low rainfall in the catchment area. While every effort is being made to ensure that citizens and corporates continue to access electricity for sustaining operations, Government wishes to inform the nation that greater emphasis will be placed on power augmentation projects, with commencement of works at the Batoka Gorge site being scheduled for this year.
Focus is also being placed on renewable energy including the options of rooftop and solar farms set to gain momentum. An exercise to compute the space available for this option is being set in motion in order for the marketing to be undertaken with investors, many of whom have realised the immense potential that Zimbabwe possesses in relation to solar energy. Options for powering agriculture through smaller grids will be pursued as part of building resilience to climate change.
6. Update on the Coronavirus Outbreak
Cabinet received an update on the new scourge on the health front, namely, the coronavirus, which was initially discovered in the 1960s and has now claimed hundreds of lives in China in the latest outbreak. Among the symptoms of the viral infection are running nose, severe cough, fever and difficulties in breathing.
The Minister of Health and Child Care informed Cabinet that 221 persons are currently under surveillance in Zimbabwe for possible infection with the virus. The Minister also indicated that there is currently no vaccine against the virus, and emphasised the need for personal, family and community hygiene.
The Minister also indicated that there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus infection so far in Zimbabwe, although 221 persons are currently under surveillance for possible infection. He informed Cabinet that a Public Emergency Operations Unit is being set up as a National Command Centre at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals Coordination will include airports and other ports of entry. Rapid response units will also be set up in all provinces and at all border posts. Further updates will be made available in order to safeguard the nation at all times.