Cabinet received an update on Zimbabwe’s Response to the Covid-19 Outbreak, which was presented by the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Honourable OCZ Muchinguri-Kashiri, as the chairperson of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the Covid-19 Outbreak.
As at 19 July, 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative Covid-19 cases stood at 83 619, with 53 453 recoveries and 2 622 deaths. The recovery rate stands at 64 percent, with 98 percent of Covid-19-positive cases being attributable to local transmission. The number of active cases stands at 27 544.
The Government notes with concern that there was a surge in weekly cases from 8 013 during the week ending July 13, 2021, to 21 346 in week ending July 20, 2021. The surge is mostly attributable to the general complacency in adhering to the set Covid-19 preventive measures both in the communities and workplaces. The Level 4 lockdown remains in force, and the following provinces have the most significant number of new cases: Mashonaland West 2 759; Harare Metropolitan 2 315; Mashonaland East 2 157; Manicaland 1 837 and Mashonaland Central 1 394. Members of the public are urged to exercise extreme caution, strictly observe the relevant preventive measures and regulations, and avoid any unnecessary travel. Most of all, the citizenry is urged to take advantage of the availability of the Covid-19 vaccine and get inoculated.
Furthermore, the Government wishes to express its gratitude to local companies which made donations to His Excellency the President on 16 July, 2021, towards the vaccination programme. The companies include a consortium of contractors working on the Harare-Beitbridge road namely: Fossil Contracting; Masimba Holdings Limited; Bitumen World; Exodus and Company, US$500 000; CBZ Agro Yield, US$250 000; Sakunda Holdings, $170 million and 300 000 litres fuel; ZB Financial Holdings Limited, US$50 000; West Property Company (Pvt.) Ltd/Ken Sharpe, US$50 000; and Mr Scot Sakupwanya, US$100 000.
In light of the continued rise in Covid-19 cases, Cabinet approved the following:
The decongestion of both public and private sector workplaces. In taking the lead, Government has further reduced its workforce to 25 per cent, on a two-weeks rotational interval. Priority will be given to the vaccinated personnel;
That the Courts of Law be opened only for remand and urgent cases;
That all civil servants should be vaccinated and those that fall ill without having been vaccinated will not be entitled to the Covid-19 insurance;
That all civil servants should be tested for Covid-19 at the commencement and end of the two week rotational interval;
That a locum-based Covid-19 risk allowance payment model will be adopted for the health personnel in the red zone as part of the incentive schemes.
Progress report on the procurement and roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines
The Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable CGDN Chiwenga, apprised Cabinet on progress made in the procurement and roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines.
The nation is advised that as of 19 July, 2021, a total of 1 184 435 people had received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and 643 203 their second dose across the country. Cabinet wishes to further inform citizens that Government is expecting a delivery of 1,5 million vaccine doses this week and an additional 1 million doses plus 2 million syringes on the 25 July, 2021. The Government is also pleased to announce that the Ministry of Health and Child Care has developed a Covid-19 third wave containment plan. The highlights of the plan include:
Increasing the bed capacity at Mpilo and Sally Mugabe Central Hospitals;
Designation of Beatrice Road Infectious Disease Hospital and Ekusileni Hospitals as Covid-19 district hospitals for Harare and Bulawayo, respectively;
Strengthening private sector participation;
Improving conditions of service for health workers;
Operationalising virtual hospitals in which every district will have a rapid response team to attend to cases of acute Covid-19 clinical distress, and a review of Covid-19 risk allowances.
Nominees for the 2021 Honours and Awards
Cabinet considered and approved the nominees for the 2021 Honours and Awards in terms of the Honours and Awards Act [Chapter 10:11], which were presented by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable CGDN Chiwenga.
Cabinet wishes to inform the public that the Government is now changing the system of conferring honours and awards. In the past, honours and awards were only conferred to the uniformed forces. Going forward, the system of conferring honours and awards is now being extended to civil servants and civilians as a defining characteristic of the Second Republic, where the national interest and selfless sacrifice for the good of humankind is extolled. These honours and awards will be conferred during the Heroes and Defence Forces Day in line with provisions of the Honours and Awards Act[Chapter 10:11]
Budget strategy paper
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Honourable Mthuli Ncube, presented the Budget Strategy Paper for 2022, which was approved by Cabinet.
The 2022 Budget Strategy Paper is part of the annual budget preparatory process issued in order for stakeholders to understand macro-fiscal issues that will guide prioritisation of budget allocations.
Cabinet wishes to advise the nation that the Zimbabwean economy is projected to grow by 5.4 percent in 2022, anchored on growth in the mining, manufacturing and electricity generation sectors, among others. The Government revenue is expected to improve from 16.4 percent ($390,8 billion) of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2021 to 17,8 percent ($533,2 billion) in 2022, while expenditure will increase to 19, 4 percent ($579.1 billion) of the GDP from the 18,2 percent ($421,6 billion) in 2021.
In the 2022 National Budget, Government will prioritise to sustain macroeconomic stability, to create a conducive environment for business investment and to improve the living standards of the majority. As such, the priority areas of 2022 are the following:
Inclusive growth and macro-economic stability;
Developing and supporting productive value chains;
Optimising value in our natural resources;
Infrastructure, ICTs and digital economy;
Social protection, human capital development and well-being;
Effective institution building and governance; and
Engagement and re-engagement and debt restructuring.
2021 Mid-year fiscal policy and economic review and balance of payments developments and the state of the financial sector and outlook
Cabinet adopted the 2021 Mid-Year Fiscal Policy and economic review and balance of payment developments, the state of the financial sector and outlook, which was presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Honourable Professor Mthuli Ncube.
Cabinet advises the nation that the details of the 2021 Mid-Year Fiscal Policy will be in the statement that the Minister will present to Parliament this Thursday.
State of preparedness for the 2021-2022 agricultural production season
Cabinet considered and approved the report on the state of preparedness for the 2021-2022 agricultural season as presented by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable CGDN Chiwenga, chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition.
The nation is informed that the 2021/22 summer programme strategic objective is to sustainably increase crop production and productivity to meet and surpass the national requirements for both human consumption and industrial use. This will be achieved through the implementation of the Agriculture Recovery Plan anchored on, inter-alia, the following:
Timely provision of inputs such as fertilisers, seed, fuel and agrochemicals;
Consistent supply of key utilities such as power, fuel and water to farmers;
Access to appropriate finance for inputs and working capital;
Involving the private and financial services sectors;
Continuous support of the targeted farmers with irrigation and mechanisation services to improve efficiencies and climate proofing;
Capacitating the extension and advisory service delivery system to enhance responsiveness to farmers’ needs; and
Strengthening Government-wide coordination, monitoring and evaluation.
The strategy will result in more area being put to crop production as evidenced by the proposed increase of the hectarage of the following crops: maize; sorghum; pearl millet; finger millet; soya bean and tobacco. The financing of the summer cropping and livestock programme will be through the public and private sector as well as development partners. The Government will finance the Presidential Crop and Livestock Input Schemes through Treasury and provide the Government default guarantee for programmes funded through Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) and CBZ Bank.
The National Crop Production Plan for the 2021-2022 season also includes proposals on private sector-led programmes, categorised into potato value chain financing and private sector commodity value chain financing or contract farming.
The nation is advised that the 2021-2022 season will witness the operationalisation of the Rural Presidential Horticulture Plan. The plan will target priority fruit trees, namely: passion fruit (Granadilla), pecan nuts, apple, guava, mango, lemon, avocado pears and macadamia. Each targeted household will be given 10 trees of each fruit variety, depending on suitability of the fruit tree to the agro-ecological regions and potential income to be generated. The first phase running to December 2021 has a target of 500 000 seedlings. In addition, a total of 35 000 gardens will be established, and each will be equipped with a solar borehole, cattle water trough and an ablution facility. Each garden will cater for a village, school or youth ward centre.
The other strategies in the crops sector include the localisation of tobacco financing in order to optimise the net export benefits to 30% from the current 12.5%. The tobacco sector will be provided with seed money to the tune of US$60 million in order to establish a Revolving Fund for the local financing of tobacco to be a success.
In the livestock sector, the strategic objective of the 2021-2022 Livestock Development Plan is to sustainably increase livestock production and productivity to meet and surpass the national requirements for both human consumption and industrial use. This will be achieved through implementation of programmes under the Livestock Recovery and Growth Plan such as climate-proofed livestock production; involving the private and financial services sectors; access to forage and pastures; capacitating the livestock and veterinary extension and advisory service delivery system; and strengthening Government-wide coordination, monitoring and evaluation.
The nation is further advised that the Government will introduce a Presidential Rural Poultry Pass-on Scheme, which seeks to commercialise rural poultry production, thereby providing an affordable source of protein and increasing rural household incomes. The Scheme intends to distribute rural poultry chicks to at least 1.8 million rural households over a period of 5 years. The Goats Pass-On Scheme will see a total of 600 000 does and 40 000 bucks being equitably distributed to 600 000 households in all the country’s 8 rural provinces in 2021. The programme will result in 1.8 million rural households benefiting by 2023. The other programmes to be introduced include the Silage and Pasture Production for Enhanced Milk Production, Veterinary Public Health Programme, in order to improve quality and quantity of livestock as well as improve milk production.
The Fisheries and Aquaculture Growth Plan will be implemented and will result in 60 fish ponds being developed at irrigation schemes in the country’s districts, while 6 cage projects will be established at the Muchekeranwa, Osborne, Mutirikwi, Nerutanga, Marovanyati and Chivhu dams. The benefits of these programmes and projects will accrue directly to the individual households, thereby raising their standards of living.
Cabinet approved a raft of measures that will transform the agricultural sector once implemented. Our farmers are urged to approach their Agricultural Extension Workers for the finer details of these programmes.