Twenty-sixth Post Cabinet press briefing

UPDATE ON ZIMBABWES RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK

Cabinet received an update on Zimbabwes Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak, which was presented by the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Honourable A. Murwira, as the Acting Chairperson of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the COVID-19 Outbreak.

As at 2 August, 2021, Zimbabwes cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at     110 855, with 79 420 recoveries and 3 635 deaths. The recovery rate stands at 72%, with 98% of COVID-19-positive cases being attributable to local transmission. The number of active cases stands at 27 800.

Government notes that there was a slight decrease in weekly cases from 14 275 during the week ending 27 July 2021, to 11 652 in week ending 2 August 2021. The decline is mostly attributable to the infection prevention and control efforts instituted by Government in response to the third wave of the COVID-19 outbreak. Areas which recorded the most significant numbers of new cases were Harare Metropolitan Province (2 361), Mashonaland East Province (1 523), Mashonaland West Province (1 136), Manicaland Province (1 361) and Masvingo Province (1 106).
The nation is called upon to continue exercising extreme caution, and complying with COVID-19 protective and preventative guidelines, protocols and measures in order to register further declines in confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Regarding Primary and Secondary Education, Cabinet notes that the sector is continuing with its preparations for the re-opening of schools.

PROGRESS REPORT ON THE PROCUREMENT AND ROLL-OUT OF COVID-19 VACCINES

The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Honourable A. Murwira, as the Acting Minister of Health and Child Care, apprised Cabinet on progress made in the procurement and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.

The nation is advised that as of 2nd August, 2021, a total of 1 674 710 people had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 798 880 their second dose across the country. Vaccination in border town hotspots and peoples markets is ongoing, with the highest coverages of the first dose being recorded in Mutare City, Victoria Falls City, Kariba and Chiredzi. The highest coverage for the 2nd dose was recorded in Victoria Falls and Nyamapanda.

A genomic sequencing for COVID-19 samples collected in Harare revealed that 98% of the samples were of the Delta variant. The citizenry is informed that the national genomic sequencing survey is in progress and the results will be announced to the public.

The nation is informed that the Ministry of Health and Child Care is expecting 2 500 000 doses of vaccine through direct purchase in August 2021, while a further 3 500 000 doses will be received during the month of September 2021 under the COVAX facility.

In order to accelerate the vaccination programme and achieve herd immunity by the end of 2021 Cabinet has approved the following strategies:

Extending the vaccination programme to private hospitals and private clinics to complement Government efforts. The vaccines will remain free. The institution may claim for the injection costs based on medical aid tariffs;
Continued collaboration with the Security Sector to assist in the vaccine roll out;
Increasing outreach teams for hard-to-reach areas, from an average of two to four teams;
Increased provision of transport and fuel for the outreach teams;
Reviewing the payment model of allowances for the vaccinators to be based on the number of persons vaccinated;
Health Services Board has written to Treasury seeking concurrence to recruit retired nurses to participate in the vaccination programme;
Using non-medical staff such as data capturers to free nurses so that they concentrate on vaccination; and
The extension of the vaccination programme to clinics in higher and tertiary learning institutions.

Cabinet is grateful to the private sector players who are partnering Government its quest to have the citizens vaccinated. SEED-CO has managed to vaccinate 98% of its employees and has extended the vaccine offer to Government.
 
UPDATE ON THE 2021 WINTER WHEAT PRODUCTION AND THE MAIZE AND COTTON SELLING SEASON

The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Honourable A. Masuka, updated Cabinet on the 2021 winter wheat production and maize marketing season.

The nation is advised that of the 85 000 hectares that had been planned for wheat, 66 435.86 hectares were planted for the Presidential, National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme (NEAPS)/Command/CBZ Agro-Yield and Private Sector schemes. This is about 78% of the target area, and 50% above last year. The area planted of 66 435.86 hectares is the third highest since independence and is only surpassed by plantings in 2004 (70 585 ha) and 2005 (67 261 ha).  Wheat stocks were 79 820 metric tonnes for week ending 2 August, 2021 and is sufficient until the next harvest which is expected to commence in September. 

It is highlighted that 629 007 mt of maize, 11 381 mt of soya bean and   64 798 mt of traditional grains had been delivered to the GMB as at 2 August 2021. All grain (i.e. wheat, maize, traditional grains and soya beans) delivered to date is valued at $23 199 330 820.50, of which        $14 380 659 017.45 has been paid to farmers, giving an outstanding balance of $9 367 983 410.25. All efforts are being made to ensure that the backlog is cleared post haste.

On tobacco marketing, Cabinet reports that cumulative sales were 199.6 million kilogrammes valued at US$555 million, compared to the 176 million kilogrammes valued at US$440 million that were sold during the similar period last year.  The prices paid were 26.1% firmer than the previous year due to improved quality offerings by farmers. On exports, 76 million kilogrammes valued at US$295.5 million have been exported compared to the 83 million kilogrammes valued at US$273 million exported during the similar period the previous year.

On seed cotton intake, a total of 82 189 metric tonnes valued at ZW$4.6 billion have been received at COTTCO depots. This intake has surpassed the 2020 figure despite being 55% of the targeted deliveries.  COTTCO has paid ZW$690 876 402.60 and US$1 296 588.00 to farmers.

UPDATE ON THE E-LEARNING STRATEGY

Cabinet received an update on the National e-Learning Strategy, which was presented by the Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Honourable J. Muswere.

As the nation may recall, Cabinet approved the National e-Learning Strategy in the first quarter of 2021. The objective of the National e-Learning is to transform the education sector through the development of adequate technological capacity for both learners and educators regardless of geographical location or economic circumstance. The Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services wishes to accelerate the implementation of the National e-Learning Strategy through the provision of free internet services to 400 schools that already have connectivity but are encountering difficulties in paying monthly bandwidth subscriptions. The schools will be provided with data for nine months. An additional 180 rural schools will have been connected by the end of 2021, and will benefit from the same initiative.

In addition to the provision of free access to internet services at Community Information Centres and Community Village Information Centres, Government will meet all operational expenses, inclusive of staff remuneration. Taking into cognizance the financial hardships brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak, Cabinet wishes to advise the citizenry that all students, pupils and the general public using these facilities will enjoy free access to internet services at Community Information Centres and Community Village Information Centres for a period o

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