March 17, 2020
1. Update on the National Preparedness and Response Progress Regarding the Covid-19 Outbreak
Cabinet received and adopted a report by the Minister of Health and Child Care on the national preparedness and response progress regarding the Covid-19 outbreak. As at 13 March 2020, more than 9 505 travellers had been screened at the country’s ports of entry and 378 put on surveillance. The National Microbiology Reference Laboratory had tested 14 suspected cases for Covid-19 and all were negative. Cabinet was informed that to date there is no confirmed case of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe.
The Minister advised that while more cases and deaths are being reported in Europe, 26 countries in Africa have confirmed cases of Covid-19. Of these countries, four are from the SADC region, namely: South Africa, Eswatini, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. South Africa, in particular, has reported local spread of Covid-19, while the other three countries have reported imported cases largely from Europe. His Excellency the President has already provided more detail on this.
Furthermore, a number of measures have been put in place to deal with the outbreak chief among which are the following:
Developing standard operating procedures (SOPs) to guide implementation in the following key areas: points of entry; self-isolation, surveillance; rapid response teams; and case investigation; laboratory case management, logistics, and infection prevention and control. The SOPs aim to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance in Covid-19 preparedness and response.
Strengthening the capacity of identified isolation centres to be able to manage severe cases throughout the country. Work has begun to upgrade Wilkins Hospital with support from the Chinese.
Procuring confirmatory test kits for Covid-19 with some having been received as donations from partners, such WHO, Africa CDC, DFID, and the Chinese government.
Procurement of Covid-19 Rapid Diagnostic Test kits (RDTs) for use at ports of entry is in progress.
Discouragement of Zimbabweans from travelling to and through high-risk affected countries as well as cancelling all non-essential travel.
Immediate suspension of all gatherings of more than 100 people, such as 2020 Independence anniversary celebrations, church gatherings, weddings and burial ceremonies for a period of 60 days.
Government also urges the citizenry to rely on official reports from the Ministry of Health and Child Care only. Details on the operationalisation of the directives will be announced in due course.
2. Outcome of the Main TNF Meeting held on 16th March 2020
The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare updated Cabinet on the outcome of the main Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) held on 16th March, 2020. Cabinet noted the recommendations made by the following sub-committees: on the monetary, fiscal and inflation reduction; on institutional reforms; proposals on the erosion of salaries and wages; and measures to mitigate the impact of coronavirus.
3. Principles to Amend the State Service Pensions Act (Chapter 16:06)
Cabinet considered and approved principles to amend the State Service Pensions Act (Chapter 16:06) as presented by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Key provisions of the principles include the following:
to provide for the establishment of a Pension Fund whose objective shall be to provide for the payment of pension, gratuities and other benefits;
to provide for the management of the fund by a Board of Trustees whose function shall include but not limited to the administration of the fund; and
to provide for contributions made by members towards the fund. The rates of contribution by both the employer and the members will be outlined. Furthermore, the pension benefits that will be payable to members in the employment of the State shall be fixed in the members’ conditions of employment.
4. 2020 Winter Wheat Pre-Planting Price and the 2019/2020 Soyabean Producer Floor Price
Cabinet considered the 2020 winter wheat pre-planting price and the 2019/2020 soyabean producer floor prices as presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement on behalf of the chair of the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition and approved as follows:
a) that the pre-planting winter wheat producer floor price be pegged at ZW$11 786,44 per metric tonne at a margin of 20 percent, assuming a yield of 4 metric tonnes per hectare;
b) that the premium price for Grade A wheat be set at ZW$14 143,73 which is 20 percent above the wheat producer floor price;
c) that the soyabean floor price be set at ZW$12 833 per metric tonne at a 20 percent margin, assuming a yield of 2 metric tonnes per hectare;
d) that, going forward, the cost build-up plus margin model should be used in the determination of producer prices; and
e) that the growing of sesame and sunflower be promoted to increase feedstock for cooking oil production and as an import substitution strategy.
5. Presentation of the ZimVAC Report and the Zimbabwe Domestic and International Appeal for Assistance
Cabinet noted and approved the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) Report which clearly outlined that 75 percent of the rural districts had received over 50 percent of support from Government. Government will soon unveil to the nation and the international donor community measures to be taken in order to map the way to bridge the food deficit gap, including through the launching of an international appeal for assistance.