Cabinet Media Briefing: gatherings limit now 100; restaurant opening hours extended

FORTY-SECOND POST-CABINET PRESS BRIEFING 1 DECEMBER, 2020

1.      ZIMBABWE’S RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK

The Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, as Chairperson of the COVID-19 Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force, presented an update report on the country’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which was adopted by Cabinet.

Cabinet was advised that Zimbabwe had recorded a cumulative 9 714 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 8 470 recoveries, and 275 deaths as at 27 November, 2020. The national recovery rate stands at 87% percent. Eight thousand two hundred and thirty-nine (8 239) of the COVID-19 positive cases are local transmissions. 

Of concern, is the increase in the number of new cases detected, from 281 recorded in week 46 to 594 in week 47 following the re-opening of schools. In order to control the spread of COVID-19 in schools the following measures are being implemented: intensification of the supervision and inspection of boarding school facilities; providing potable water to 48 schools in Bulawayo which are in dire need of the essential commodity; strengthening of public health response measures in affected schools; supporting all education institutions to fully implement COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures; and implementing COVID-19 protective and preventive measures in the social spaces beyond school premises.

However, the media is urged to report responsibly on the situation prevailing in primary and secondary schools and seek information from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and Health and Child Care on issues of interest. This will avoid the undue alarm and despondency caused by the uncoordinated reportage witnessed since the re-opening of schools. 

Cabinet also wishes to report that the re-opening of the country’s borders has been effected as scheduled, starting today, 1st December 2020. On the number of people allowed at gatherings, Cabinet notes that the different numbers specified for various types of gatherings has caused general confusion and violations of restrictions. Accordingly, henceforth, the number of people permitted at any gathering is restricted to 100, irrespective of what the gathering is being convened for.  

In the tourism sector, Government notes the need to promote business activities in the sector, especially given the anticipated increase of tourists and returning citizens as the country’s borders re-open. Opening hours of restaurants will therefore be extended from the current 1830 hours closing time to 2000 hours closing time. Restaurant operators are called upon to strictly observe these hours of operation, ensure COVID-19 prevention protocols and guidelines are observed, which will be strictly enforced. Similarly, those patronising the restaurants should ensure that they adhere to curfew hours. 

Cabinet takes this opportunity to call upon all citizens to strictly adhere to COVID-19 protective and preventative guidelines, protocols and measures in order to arrest the surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases. Enforcement of the measures and communication of same is being intensified, while schools will remain open only if they adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures.   

2.      PRE-PLANTING PRODUCER PRICES FOR MAIZE, TRADITIONAL GRAINS, SOYA BEANS AND COTTON   

Cabinet considered and approved Pre-Planting Producer Prices for Maize, Traditional Grains, Soya beans and Cotton for the 2021 Agricultural Marketing Season, which were presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement. Details on the actual prices will soon be announced by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and COTTCO. However, suffice to say that the producer prices ensure farmer viability and incentivise the producers to grow these strategic crops and that they are based on a cost of production plus 15% return oninvestment model.  In order to promote the production of traditional grains, a 20% premium on the price of maize is given to farmers who grow the crops.  

3.      PROGRESS REPORT ON THE SUMMER PRODUCTION SEASON

Cabinet received an update on the status of preparations for the 2020/2021 summer production season as presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement. Cabinet noted progress registered in the following Government Programmes:- Pfumvudza Programme, National Enhanced Crop Productivity Programme (Command or Smart Agriculture Programme); Presidential Cotton Programme; Tobacco sector programme; livestock growth plan; and the mechanization support programme.

Regarding the Pfumvudza Programme, Cabinet was informed that households supported under the Programme had increased from 1.8 million to 2.2 million.  All the 2.2 million families enrolled had been automatically entered in the Pfumvudza competition for all the crops. A total of 2 139 275 households had been trained on Pfumvudza. Additionally, the Zunde  raMambo concept had been revived and inputs are now being distributed to 286 chiefs.

On National enhanced Crop productivity Programme, the nation is advised that 285 440 hectares of the targeted 290 000 hectares had been registered by 11 829 farmers, and 43 067 hectares had been registered for soya bean out of the targeted 60 000 hectares by 932 farmers. The farmers had received the following inputs: maize seed; soya beans seed; basal fertilizer; soya blend; and top dressing fertilizer.

Pertaining to the Presidential Cotton Programme, Cabinet approved  cotton ”Pfumvudza” pack comprising 6kg seed, 80kg basal fertiliser, 40kg top dressing and the prerequisite herbicides and chemicals reducing the seed allocation from 20kg seed to match fertilizers provided.

Concerning preparedness for the 2020/2021 season in the tobacco sector, Cabinet noted that a total area of 28 292 hectares had been planted as at 25 November 2020, compared to 27 181 hectares planted in the previous season. Furthermore, 127 231 growers had registered for 2020/2021 season, compared to 139 606 growers registered during the same season.

Under the Livestock Growth Plan the following Programmes were launched on 20 November 2020: Presidential Blitz Tick Grease Scheme; Dip tank rehabilitation; genetic improvement; and borehole drilling. During the launch 34 bulls were distributed to 34 Chiefs in Matabeleland South. The distribution of the targeted one million one kilogram packs for the one million cattle-owning households has commenced.

Meanwhile, of the 474 tractors expected under the Belarus facility, 450 tractors have now been received for distribution to farmers through designated banks. 

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