The Cabinet received an update on steps that are being taken to contain the Covid-19 pandemic from the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Honourable Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, chairperson of the Ad- Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the Covid-19 outbreak.
Cabinet noted that the country has now recorded 6 837 confirmed Covid-19 cases, compared to the 6 388 reported the previous week. A total of 5 345 persons had recovered from the virus, compared to the 5 078 recoveries that were reported last week.
Harare and Bulawayo Metropolitan Provinces are the epicentres of the pandemic, while community transmissions account for the majority of the new cases. The loss of 206 lives to the pandemic is sincerely regretted and all efforts are being made to ably manage the situation.
The number of testing laboratories countrywide has increased to 32, following the inclusion of the Dangerous Pathogens Laboratory, Unki Mine and PSI on the inventory of the testing laboratories. Health Care Workers and other frontline workers continue to be prioritized in the testing regime.
The public may recall that Cabinet approved the establishment of a Covid-19 Experts Advisory Committee, whose objective will be to provide science-based evidence, advice and guidance on the national Covid-19 preparedness and response in support of timely evidence- based policy decisions.
Today, Cabinet approved the appointed of the following members: Dr Tonderai Mapako, Mr Tendai Kureya, Dr Justen Manasa, Professor Rudo Makunike-Mutasa, Dr Alex Gasasira, Dr Lincoln Charimari, Professor Rose Kambarami, Dr Gladwin Muchena, Dr Samson Shumbairerwa, Dr Muteweye, Professor Rashida Ferrand, and Ms Ester Masunda. The committee is made up of professionals in the relevant fields who are expected to deliver on this important mandate.
Cabinet also received the results from a TIBA study on frontline health workers (FHW) conducted in Bulawayo which also buttressed our efforts on the need to ensure the enhanced availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at all levels of our FHWs.
Government, through Treasury, has released $205 million for the drilling of 10specialised boreholes and the rehabilitation of 10 under the Epping Forest Project. Four of the 10 boreholes have so far been drilled. The Epping Forest and the Mtshabezi/Inyankuni Water Project aim to improve raw water supplies to the City of Bulawayo.
To date, the total number of boreholes drilled by Government and its partners as part of the Covid-19 response is 222.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has up-scaled efforts in preparation for the September 14 and 28, 2020 re-opening of Cambridge and ZIMSEC examination-administering schools, respectively. The Ministry is currently procuring PPE, infrared thermometers, disinfectants and other hygiene products to the tune of $654 147 907.
The risk and communication sub-committee is increasing public awareness to ensure there is co-sharing of information dissemination and enforcement of Covid-19 regulations. Under this initiative, community health clubs will be set up and community volunteers trained to carry out outreach programmes.
The volunteers will educate communities on key protective and preventive measures. The campaign will also target potential hotspots, which include churches, funerals and bus termini.
Following representations from the Liquor Retailers’ Association seeking permission for liquor retailers to commence operations, Cabinet resolved that operations could resume in line with Covid-19 regulations and on condition that no liquor is consumed at their premises.
State of preparedness by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe for the opening of airports for domestic and international flights
Cabinet approved the opening up of the country’s skies to both domestic and international flights effective September 10 and October 1, 2020, respectively. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been put in place for the reopening of international and some domestic airports.
The national guidelines for aviation safety and security have been developed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) to ensure the safety of both the travellers and airport staff.
These are additional to temperature testing, social distancing, sanitisation, and mandatory wearing of masks. All travellers will be required to have a PCR Covid-19 Clearance Certificate issued by a recognised facility within 48 hours from the date of departure, in line with WHO guidelines.
Riverbed mining and environmental challenges
Cabinet considered a paper which was co-presented by the Ministers of Mines and Mining Development and Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry on the status of riverbed mining/drenching and the environmental challenges thereof.
Having noted the challenges and the need to put in place measures to carry out sustainable mining operations in the sector, Cabinet directed as follows:
Riverbed and alluvial mining on rivers
All riverbed alluvial and riverbed mining on rivers is banned with immediate effect, except on the Save and Angwa rivers where desiltation will be allowed under very strict conditions.
Introduction of “Orderly Mining Initiatives”
All those holding mining concessions will be given a grace period to be announced to obtain Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and State of Works Plan acceptance by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.
It was noted that the granting of a Mining Concessions through mining claims and on special grant is not a license for resumption of mining. All holders of mining title are required to obtain approval of EIA and acceptance of Site Plan Works by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. This position will be strictly reinforced by the two Ministries responsible for Mines and Environment.
Those who fail to regularise EIA and Site Plan Works will be deemed to be operating illegally and will be subject to stiff penalties which are being reviewed.
The whole objective is to have all mining operations conducted in a manner which does not harm the environment. Stiff penalties shall be aimed at all those who are not complying with environmental provisions.
Mining in national parks
Mining on areas held by National Parks is banned with immediate effect. Steps are being undertaken to immediately cancel all mining title held in National Parks.
Operationalisation of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act, 2020
Following the repeal of the War Veterans Act (Chapter 11:15) and the subsequent enactment of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act (Chapter 17:12), at today’s sitting, Cabinet considered and approved the proposals on the operationalisation of the Act as presented by the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs. The Liberation Struggle Act encompasses all categories of Veterans of the Struggle, namely War Veterans, Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees, Non-Combatant Cadres, and War Collaborators.
The new Act shall be operationalised through the following proposals:
Establishment of a structure for welfare and economic empowerment of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle;
Establishment of a Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Fund and Capitalisation of the Fund;
Putting in place a vetting system for war collaborators and non-combatant cadres;
Appointment of a new Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Board; and
Conversion of Power Zimbabwe Company into a Holdings Parastatal.
5.0 Job creation trends since the advent of the Second Republic
The Ministers of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and Industry and Commerce, and Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development informed Cabinet on job creation trends in all sectors of the economy since the advent of the Second Republic.
Despite the plethora of challenges that were faced, which include, among others, foreign currency shortages, currency instability as well as natural calamities, such as droughts, cyclones and Covid-19, the formal employment figures increased from 1 083 823 in 2017 to 1 296 396 as of August, 2020 according to data from the National Social Security Authority (NSSA). Most of the jobs were created in the agriculture sector with a 41 percent growth rate, followed by construction (40 percent) and the energy sector (37 percent). Overall, the economy added 20 percent new jobs during the period under review.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are a major sector in terms of employment generation since the advent of the Second Republic. In the small and medium enterprises sector, a total of 235 635 jobs were created. The majority of the jobs (22 percent) were in agriculture, forestry and fishing sector, retail trade (21 percent), manufacturing (15 percent), mining (9 percent) and education (8 percent).
In terms of investments, 86 new investments and new employers were registered between 2018 and 2019. Forty of the businesses were in the commerce sector and 34 in fabricated metal products/machinery. Regarding retrenchments, the statistics from the Retrenchment Board show a declining trend since the advent of the Second Republic. In 2017, 4 493 workers were laid off, whereas 1 668 lost their jobs in 2018 and 1 461 in 2019. By the end of June 2020, a total of 638 workers had been laid off.
The Government, with support from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), is implementing two major projects since 2017. These two are the Empowerment for Women and Youth Project (E4WAY) in Zimbabwe and the Green Enterprise Innovation and Development Project, which are meant to economically empower women and youths.