THIRTY-THIRD POST CABINET PRESS BRIEFING: 22 SEPTEMBER, 2020
1. ZIMBABWE’S RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
Cabinet received an update on steps that are being taken to contain the COVID-19 pandemic from Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Honourable O.C.Z. Muchinguri, Chairperson of the Ad Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the Covid-19 Outbreak.
Cabinet was informed that the Experts Advisory Committee conducted a modeling exercise on current local and international COVID-19 data and noted that the Zimbabwe epidemic has not peaked as previously predicted due to the control measures that have been put in place. The Committee also concluded that the decreasing number of new infections is an indication of an epidemic coming under control. Cabinet, however, emphasizes that the public should continue being vigilant in adhering to COVID-19 containment measures as the effects of COVID-19 will continue to be felt until a vaccine is found.
Cabinet assures members of the public that there has not been increase in the death rate in Zimbabwe as alleged by some unsubstantiated social media reports. The Law and Order Sub-Committee compiled and compared data from the Central Registry on the country’s recorded deaths for the period January to August 2019 against the same period this year (2020). The data revealed that more people (45 256) died in 2019 than in 2020 (33 818) notwithstanding the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cabinet notes that all the necessary measures are being taken to ensure that schools are reopened for examination classes in a safe environment. Progress has been made on the comprehensive logistical plan for the coordinated, accelerated completion of the schools’ WASH project; the supply and distribution of PPE, hygiene kits, disinfectants, and infrared thermometers to all public schools. Most of the Districts are reporting improved levels of preparedness by schools. Cabinet approved that a COVID-19 sentinel surveillance system be established in schools to monitor the behavior of the virus and make adjustments where necessary. There will also be dedicated ZUPCO buses to ferry learners to schools for examinations.
Cabinet is pleased to announce that Cambridge Examination Centres reopened successfully on 14 September 2020 and no health incidents were reported. In light of the high level of preparedness in the education sector, schools will be reopened in a phased manner. Phase 1 will open on September 28; this will entail Grade 7, Forms 4 and 6. Phase 2 will open on 26 October 2020, and will involve Grade 6, Form 3 and 5. Finally, Phase 3 will open on 9 November 2020 covering the rest of the learners which covers ECD A and B, Grade 1,2,3,4,5, Form 1 and 2.
Cabinet further approved that the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe and Driving Schools should resume services to enable the issuance of Defensive Driving Certificates and other services to Public Service Drivers and metered taxis in order to facilitate the smooth functioning of inter-city travel and other modes of transportation.
Taking into cognizance that Zimbabwe is largely a religious nation, Cabinet has revised upwards the gatherings for Churches from 50 to 100. Cabinet, nonetheless, appeals to Churches to ensure that congregants continue to observe COVID-19 containment measures by enforcing the compulsory and proper wearing of masks, practicing social distancing and washing of hands.
2. PROPOSED LOCALISATION OF THE PRODUCTION OF VEHICLE NUMBER PLATES AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN INTEGRATED NATIONAL VEHICLE MANAGEMENT
The Ministers of Transport and Infrastructural Development; and Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development presented a proposal for the Localisation of the Production of Vehicle Number Plates and the Development of an Integrated National Vehicle Management as previously directed by Cabinet. Cabinet approved the proposal and attendant budget of US$1 million which will result in the establishment of a plant for the local manufacture of number plates.
The Project aims to ensure industrial scale manufacturing of number plates and enable citizens to access the same at affordable cost. The number plates will be manufactured using aluminium and acrylic materials which are locally available. The selling price of one registration plate will be significantly reduced from the current US$ 80.35 to US$ 45.61. The use of local materials will save the country foreign currency and reduce the import bill by 56%, currently the country spends 700 00 Euro annually on importing number plates. Furthermore, employment will be created to the generality of Zimbabweans.
The proposed number plates will have enhanced features which supersede the features of the current number plates but still maintain compliance to SADC regulations. The objective of the Project is to design and manufacture registration number plates that meet world design standards that use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging to optimize the use of road space, reduce non-compliance, enhance toll and parking authentication, combat vehicle crime and fight terrorism.
The country will also be developing its own efficient and secure Integrated Vehicle Management Software System (INVMS) that will modernize the country’s national vehicle management to world class standards. Given its short payback period and high rate of return, Cabinet decided that the Project will be funded through the Venture Fund.
3. THE ZIMBABWE VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT COMMITTEE (ZIMVAC) 2020 RURAL LIVELIHOODS ASSESSMENT REPORT
Cabinet approved the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) 2020 Rural Livelihoods Assessment Report as presented by the Minister of Industry and Commerce on behalf of Honourable Vice President C.G.D.N. Chiwenga, Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition. Cabinet noted that despite the natural disasters experienced by the country such as droughts, Cyclone Idai and COVID-19 Government has put in place an active response to the prevailing food and nutrition insecurity among rural livelihoods, with its support increasing to 76 per cent in 2020, up from 73 per cent in 2019. This is mainly through supporting the vulnerable groups by distributing food aid and cash transfers, removing restrictions on food importation such as the removal of import duty on maize and wheat, cooking oil, among other basic commodities. In addition, Government has put in place food subsidies through continued implementation of social protection measures to improve food access, and employment creation through the employment of the vulnerable communities by engaging able bodied Drought Relief Participants under the Capital Development Projects. Government has also remained the major source of crop inputs and food support, contributing 48 percent in that regard. Development partners’ support has also increased from the traditional 13 per cent to 33 per cent. The combination of efforts by Government and Development Partners has seen the majority of districts receiving food aid being able to support the population ZIMVAC has projected to be food insecure.
Cabinet notes that the Report will continue to be a vital tool for informing and guiding policies and programmes that respond to the prevailing food and nutrition security situation. Cabinet directed that a rural industrialisation strategy hinged on devolution will be crafted taking into account value addition of the indigenous foods and fruits that often offer respite to communities during periods of drought; and that investment be made in infrastructure particularly on internet connectivity in rural schools in order to equalize opportunities.
4.0 RE-OPENING OF THE TOURISM SECTOR AND RESUMPTION OF FLIGHTS
Cabinet received an update Report from the Honourable Vice President Chiwenga, Minister of Health and Child Care on his weekend visit to take stock of preparedness of the airports and related infrastructure ahead of the resumption of the international flights on 1 October, 2020. Cabinet noted with satisfaction that the three airports visited, namely the Robert Mugabe International, the J.M. Nkomo and Victoria Falls Airports as well as hotels are now ready to receive travelers in line with COVID-19 guidelines. The necessary guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures for travelers will be announced by the sector as the dates approach.