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In full: Fortieth post cabinet press briefing 23rd November, 2021 – NewsDay

ZIMBABWE’S RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND REPORT ON THE PROCUREMENT AND ROLL-OUT OF VACCINES

Cabinet received an update on the country‘s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, procurement and roll-out of vaccines as presented by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable, Dr. C.G.D.N. Chiwenga, as Chairman of the Ministers’ National Committee.

The nation is advised that as at 22 November 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 133 674 with 128 465 recoveries and 4699 deaths. The recovery rate was 96%, with 510 active cases being recorded. The overall national number of new cases decreased slightly during the week under review, with 209 cases recorded compared 251 the previous week. This represents a 17% decrease in the number of reported cases.

Regarding case management, infection, prevention and control, the number of people in need of hospitalization for COVID-19 decreased, with the country’s bed occupancy rate   decreasing from 1.2% the previous week to 0.9% this week.

On the national vaccination programme, as of 22 November 2021, a total of 3 680 636 first doses had been administered, with 2 752 352 people having received their second dose. The Ministry of Health and Child Care is collaborating with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education on the vaccination blitz of the 16 to 17 year age group in schools. Cabinet wishes to report that the inclusion of this age group has increased the target population. It is pleasing to note that in actual numbers, the cumulative number of vaccines administered during the reporting week increased compared to last week.

Regarding preparations for the safe administration of 2021 Zimbabwe School Examination Council  (ZIMSEC ) Examinations, the nation is advised that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is currently monitoring and strengthening COVID-19 compliance in preparation for the 2021 ZIMSEC Examinations. The same collaboration between the education and health sectors, which resulted in safe and successful 2020 schools’ examination processes, is expected to deliver the desired outcome.

The nation is also advised that 2021 is the first year that the Zimbabwe School Examination Council (ZIMSEC) is incorporating Continuous Assessment of Learning Area (CALA) marks into the final result for the Grade 7, ’O” and “A” level examinations. In order to ensure that the continuous assessments were done in compliance with COVID-19 regulations and to also ensure that the credibility of the ZIMSEC examination system remains intact, senior management were all out in full force moderating and ensuring that completion of Continuous Assessment of Learning Area Activities (CALA) is done by the end of November, 2021.

UPDATE ON THE KIMBERLY PROCESS SCHEME

Cabinet adopted the Update on the Kimberly Process Scheme, as presented by the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Honourable Winston Chitando.

Government is pleased to formally announce that Zimbabwe was elected Vice Chair of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) for 2022 at the plenary meeting held in Moscow from 8th to 12th November, 2021. By practice of the Kimberly Process, this means that the country will automatically take over the Chair of the KPCS in 2023. The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme is the core of the Kimberly Process, which is a multi-lateral trade regime established in 2003 by the United Nations General Council to prevent the flow of conflict diamonds. Under the KPCS, member States implement safeguards against shipments of rough diamonds and certify the diamonds as “conflict free”.

The KPCS works as a tripartite body with  the current setup having:

Industry  (represented by the World Diamond Council;

Civil Society Coalition; and Governments.

Some pertinent matters to note on Zimbabwe’s assumption of the Vice Chair of the KPCS include the following:

Zimbabwe will immediately start preparations to take over the Chair and run the Secretariat in 2023;

Preparations will also commence for the hosting of the two annual meetings of the KPCS in 2023, namely: the Intercessional and Plenary;

Establishment of a skeleton secretariat to start learning from other countries in hosting the Chairmanship and Secretariat;

Cognizant that Zimbabwe will take over the Chair in the year that the KPCS holds its Review Cycle, preparations in that regard will also commence.

On a related matter, Cabinet is delighted to further announce that Zimbabwe was nominated as incoming Chair of the African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA) for 2022. As the ADPA Chair, Zimbabwe will carry out the following mandate:

Ensuring that African diamond producers present a united voice on the international diamond scene on matters affecting them;

Promoting cooperation and information sharing amongst ADPA member States;

Formulating strategies to improve the African diamond industry; and

Engaging African countries who are not members of ADPA.

The results of the elections are an endorsement of Zimbabwe’s engagement and re-engagement drive with all nations of the world. The Zimbabwe is Open for Business Mantra has resulted in increased respect for the country.  Zimbabwe is currently a member of all the working groups and Committees, with the exception of the Committee on rules and procedures.  This has further reinforced Zimbabwe’s profile and respect.

STATE PARTY REPORT UNDER THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS

The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs presented Zimbabwe’s Combined 2nd to 11th Periodic Report under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which was approved by Cabinet.

Government wishes to inform the public that the Report outlines the legislative, administrative, judicial and other measures adopted by the country to implement the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights since submission of the Initial Report in 1998. The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights comprises 27 Articles, which provide for substantive rights and freedoms. Extensive consultations with various stakeholders including Civil Society Organizations were undertaken in compiling the Report covering the 27 Articles. Highlights of developments that have taken place since the initial report include the following:

That Zimbabwe adopted a new Constitution in 2013 providing for an expanded Bill of Rights, which ensures that citizens enjoy their civil and political rights without hindrance;

That Zimbabwe has allowed its people to determine for themselves the political dispensation of their choice through holding elections at regular intervals as and when they fall due, since Independence in 1980;

On equality and non-discrimination, the country established the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission to safeguard citizens’ rights;

On the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of civil and political rights, Constitutional stipulations provide for the reservation of women quotas in Parliament and in Commissions, while balanced gender representation is also stipulated in Acts of Parliament. For example, in 2018 there were 28 women and 30 men superior court judges, while in 2020 there were 31 women and 39 men. In 2018 there were 94 women and 156 men magistrates, while in 2020 there were 133 women and 96 men;

The freedom of thought, conscience and religion is enshrined in section 60(1) of the Constitution and people are free to exercise a religion of their choice, and religious groups can operate without any form of registration;

On the freedom of expression Constitutional and Legislative measures are in place to ensure protection of the right, such as the Broadcasting Services Act, with a number private newspapers,   radio and televion stations having been licenced;

Regarding the rights of children, in addition to the constitutional and legislative measures in place, the administrative measures implemented include decentralization of the Registrar General’s Offices to ensure the issuance of documents, establishment of the Victim-Friendly Court to protect vulnerable witness-children and the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM); and

Pertaining to the right to participate in public affairs, to voting and to having equal access to service, an Independent Electoral Authority ( the Zimbabwe Elections Commission) is in place, measures are stipulated and have been taken to ensure security of ballot boxes and vote-counting processes, election petitions have been fully addressed and the delimitation of constituencies undertaken in terms of the Constitution and the  Electoral Act.   

In summary, the Report shows that Zimbabwe has made great strides in ensuring the enjoyment of civil and political rights by its citizens. As a nation, the country remains fully committed to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and ensuring that set targets under the relevant Articles are achieved.

REPORTS ON THE SMART AGRICULTURE AND HEALTH DIGITIZATION PROGRAMMES

Cabinet considered and adopted Reports on the Smart Agriculture Programme and the Smart Health Programme, as presented by the Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Honourable Jenfan Muswere. The two programmes fall under the Smart Zimbabwe Masterplan, under which the country is pursuing the Vision 2030 goal of a digital economy.

On the Smart Agriculture Programme,

Cabinet appreciates that in order to fully realize Zimbabwe’s immense agricultural production potential, there is need to increase yield, quality and agro-value chain efficiencies through innovation based on digital technologies. Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) including sensor systems, internet connectivity and artificial intelligence will enable agricultural data to be collected timeously and informed decisions to be made. In this regard, Government is currently developing the Agriculture Information Management System (AIMS) to monitor and manage agricultural activities. In 2021, a budget of ZW$ 200 million was provided to support the ICT-related requirements of the AIMS project, including provision of gadgets and internet connectivity to all of the country’s agricultural institutions.

The key components of the Agriculture Information Management System include the following:

Assessment of Crop Threats – which provides an early warning system to avert agricultural disasters and the associated low productivity;

Land Information Management System – to record and analyse agricultural land use and allocation;

Water Information System  – to enable efficient management of water resources, with all water bodies having been already mapped;

Inputs Supply System – comprising automated inputs and output management, land soil fertility mapping by remote sensing/mobile apps; and

Livestock, On Farm, Post-Harvest, Agro-Processing, and Marketing and Consumption Information Management Systems

Implementation of the Agriculture Information Management System has the following positive impacts:

  • Remote interaction between farm owners, managers and workers in real-time;
  • Facilitating access to land and security of tenure;
  • Increased access to affordable agriculture financing;
  • Promoting effective agriculture knowledge, technology and innovation systems;
  • Lowering costs of production;
  • Improved access to agricultural information; and

Increased income through reduced post-harvest losses and direct connection to agro-value chains.

Regarding the Smart Health Programme,

Cabinet notes that the need for deployment of ICTs in delivering health services has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Smart health initiatives such as telemedicine have proved to be very effective in overcoming barriers to health care and ensuring timely provision of services. Zimbabwe has therefore embarked on an initiative to ensure that all facilities are connected countrywide. A telemedicine virtual system is also being rolled out.

Government wishes to advise that a pilot tele-medicine project valued at US$357 632 is being implemented in partnership with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The pilot project entails the use of ICTs to facilitate the provision of clinical health care using real-time two-way communication between physicians and patients at remote rural centres. A total of 15 health centres were equiped with state-of-the-art Transportable Examination Stations (TES) comprising high-resolution autofocus examination cameras, stethoscope, a Total Vital Signs test device, a laptop, ultrasound scan devices, electrocardiography (ECG) services and blood pressure cuffs. All  15 centres are linked to Parirenyatwa Referral Hospital, allowing for sharing of patient data and consultations with other referral healthcare institutions. It should be noted that the telemedicine solution is fully integrated to the Impilo Virtual Health System recently launched by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

  • The Smart Health Programme will result in:
  • Improved health service delivery and efficiencies;
  • Improved health surveillance;
  • Improved health-system and records management;
  • Improved health education and clinical decision-making; and
  • Support for behavioural changes related to public health priorities and disease management.
  • Furthermore, the programme will have the following benefits:
  • Offering treatment to patients in the comfort of their homes;
  • Confidentiality of medical information;
  • Reduction in travelling costs to health facilities;
  • High responsiveness to medical emergencies; and
  • Reduced referrals, consultation fees and mortality rates.

The Smart Health System will be able to be opened to similar international health systems when there is need. The nation is advised that scoping and development work has already started and should be completed during the National Development Strategy 1 period.

5.0 REPORT ON THE WORLD CHILDREN’S DAY COMMEMORATIONS AND UNICEF’S 75TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS

Cabinet received and noted the Report on the World Children’s Day Commemorations and UNICEF’s 75th Anniversary Celebrations held at Kazungula Bridge in Kasane, Botswana on 20 November 2021, as presented by the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Honourable Dr. Kirsty Coventry.

As part of the commemorations, in his capacity as the SADC Global leader for Generation Unlimited, His Excellency Dr Masisi, President of Botswana, in collaboration with UNICEF hosted children and young people from Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Generation Unlimited is an initiative which seeks to have every child and young person in the ages of 10 to 24 years in quality education, training or gainful employment at the appropriate age by 2030.

This year’s annual World Children’s Day was held under the theme, “Re-imagining the Future”, which represents a new initiative that seeks to give children and young people the space to engage in defining the vision they want for their future and future generations. Children participated in discussions with their Presidents about the issues that matter most to them, including climate change; gender equality; disability and inclusion; and access to education in the COVID-19 pandemic era.

His Excellency the President, Cde E.D. Mnangagwa implored children to be disciplined, hardworking, respectful and also abstain from drugs and wayward behavior if they are to be competitive in a globalized world.  The President highlighted that the Second Republic had introduced several interventions that have improved the lives of children, including among others, the Women’s Bank; a Youth Empowerment Bank; and a desk for youth at every Ministry.

Government notes that this event was historical in that this is the first time ever that four Heads of State have come together to simultaneously engage the youth on their concerns.   

I THANK YOU!

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Odisha govt plans development of colleges – Times of India

The Biju Pattnaik College Of Science & Education

BHUBANESWAR: After starting work on transformation of schools, the state government has rolled out an institutional mechanism called district college development facilitation centres for development of higher secondary and higher education sectors.
Chief secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra on Friday directed collectors of all districts to operationalise these centres for addressing the problems encountered by colleges. While conducting a district-wise review of these centres, Mahapatra said the development of colleges is a priority of the government and collectors must be directly involved in the process.
He also asked the collectors to look into the major issues including settlement of land in the name of colleges, separation of Plus-II wing from the degree colleges, expedited implementation of development projects in the colleges, proper utilisation of government funds given under different schemes and development of academic ecosystem on the campus.
Collectors were directed to convene meetings with different colleges for having a first-hand assessment of their problems and accordingly prioritise those according to the guidelines issued by the higher education department.
Higher education secretary Saswat Mishra said direct involvement of the collectors and district administrations will easily resolve many ground-level issues.

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Bihar government to recruit 4,600 teachers in colleges: Minister – Times of India

PATNA: Altogether 4,600 teachers will be appointed in the colleges to help in timely completion of courses and conducting examination on time, education minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary on Friday said in the Vidhan Parishad.
He also said 6,421 posts of Vidyalaya Sahayak (school assistants) have been created for works related to computers and other fields.
Choudhary was replying to a starred question raised by RJD MLC Ram Chandra Purbey, who said the students were suffering because of delay in completion of courses.
Purbey cited the example of the B R Ambedkar Bihar University in Muzaffarpur and said 60,000 students could not apply for the 4335 posts of POs and management trainees because of delay in holding examination of the 2018-21 batch.
The minister said all the vice-chancellors and registrars, in a meeting at Raj Bhavan recently, were instructed to complete the courses on time.
To another short-notice question raised by MLC Sanjeev Kumar Singh, the education minister said his department has created 6,421 posts of school assistants and computer literacy has been made mandatory for their appointment. Choudhary said the induction of these assistants will help in carrying out several duties.
Singh pointed out that teachers have to be engaged in various works like enrolment and registration of new students, issuing admit cards and other works in the absence of school assistants and clerks. He further said the teachers had to go to cybercafé for completing the works as many schools do not have computer facilities.
Choudhary also said a software was being developed to have a record of land availability of schools and instructions have been given to get the encroachments on educational premises removed.
Exchange of couplets: The last day of winter session witnessed exchange of couplets between education minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary and Congress MLC Prem Chandra Mishra after a question regarding the status of Maithili teaching. When Mishra read out an Urdu poem, Choudhary replied in a poetic way. Choudhary said the state government was serious about Maithli education and 55 teachers were working while 114 posts of teachers had been created in senior secondary schools. He further said 49 teachers were appointed at the college level.

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Govt must stop abusing COVID-19 regulations – NewsDay

THE Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) rejects the knee-jerk, irrational and unscientific imposition of adjusted national lockdown regulations under Statutory Instrument 267 of 2021. This follows the recent discovery of the Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa and Botswana.

As part of the measures, a daily curfew was imposed from 9pm to 6am, while shops were directed to open for business from 7am and close by 7pm.

The regulations also require all returning residents and visitors to undergo PCR testing and those found to be negative will be quarantined at their own cost for 10 days, while those who are found positive will be isolated in accordance with the provisions of the principal order.

These regulations are the clearest yet sign that government is using the cover the COVID-19 pandemic to push an ulterior agenda which we strongly believe to be centred on its quest to stifle free and legitimate operations of citizens trying to recover from the effects of the same pandemic on their livelihoods.

The latest regulations were initially announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on November 30, 2021 ostensibly to avert threats of a fourth wave in Zimbabwe.

While we appreciate government’s efforts at containing the pandemic as prescribed in the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on handling the new Omicron variant, we are concerned that the new measures are disproportionate to our situation as a country and seem not based on any scientific logic.

The latest WHO recommendations on the new variant encourage authorities to enhance surveillance and genomic sequencing efforts and urge them to continue reminding communities and individuals to continue adhering to the “tried and tested” protocols already in use.

The latest regulations are surprising given that the government’s post-cabinet briefings of November 16 and 30, 2021 assured the nation that the COVID-19 pandemic was “under control” in the country following several days with few or no reported deaths and few new infections.

The Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights is in agreement with government’s assessment based on the fact that the national positive rate in the last three to four weeks has been less than 2,5%.

WHO ratings project that a positive rate of more than 5% signifies a pandemic out of control and anything below 5% is a well-controlled pandemic.

Ironically, WHO and health experts are reportedly convinced that the new strain is “super mild” and has, so far, not led to a surge in COVID-19 death rates anywhere in southern Africa, urging countries to drop travel restrictions and end the mass hysteria associated with the new Omicron variant.

Additionally, Zimbabwe has been singled out as one of the few African countries that has implemented a successful COVID-19 response strategy that has been applauded by the WHO.

Given the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy as well as the livelihoods of many of our citizens, the latest measures are surprising as they peg back the nation from realising a quick recovery to the pandemic-induced economic backslide.

Unemployment in Zimbabwe is estimated at over 90%, with many citizens relying on the informal economy to sustain their livelihoods. It is these citizens who will face the brunt of these unjustified regulations.

The limiting of operating times for business will affect actors in both the formal and informal economic sectors, which will inevitably peg back any economic recovery efforts.

We would have expected the government to be concentrating on ramping up its vaccination drive, which has gradually stalled and is way behind projected targets.

Getting herd immunity through vaccination has been identified as one of the quickest ways of ensuring full opening up of the economy so that citizens can return to their normal life routines and secure their livelihoods.

We are worried that enforcement of COVID-19 regulations has often been used as cover for gross rights violations with the army and police brutalising citizens for violating the regulations.

Since March 2020, it has become quite apparent that COVID-19 regulations in Zimbabwe have been used to entrench authoritarian rule and violate citizens’ fundamental rights through the imposition of restrictions without proper any justified scientific basis. -CiZC


Parly must craft national disability policy

VENDORS Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation today commemorates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities under the theme Leadership and Participation of Persons with Disabilities Toward an Inclusive, Accessible and Sustainable Post-COVID-19 World.

This year’s event comes on the backdrop of continued vulnerability for this sector of our population owing to the ravages of COVID-19 with no support from Government and its agencies.

Not only have our members been deprived of support, but containment measures such as vaccination and associated publicity campaigns, people with disabilities have been  left out, yet sign language is recognised as part of the country’s 16 official languages.

According to a Unesco Rapid Assessment report of November 2020, on the effects of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities asserted that the majority of persons with disabilities (PWDs) survive on informal sector activities such as vending and begging on the streets.

People with disabilities faced significant difficulties to access support from government, non-governmental organisations and private individuals owing to travel restrictions imposed by the government during the lockdown period.

Mary Mushayi, a PWD in a report of December 2020, said when borders are closed, relatives cannot send groceries to them and they are unable to move around to collect parcels owing to transport challenges compounded by the ban on commuter omnibuses.

For Viset, this sector is a critical component of the informal economy as many persons with disabilities derive their living from the sector due to the fact that there are less barriers to entry as many of them are deprived of formal education.

A walk in the central business district will confirm this assertion, yet government and local authorities have no plan to ensure this constituency is accommodated in accessible buildings and facilities such as public toilets and transport.

Viset calls for the enactment into an act of Parliament the National Disability Policy that was launched by the President in June 2021.

We also call upon all policing authorities to be trained in communication and interaction of persons with disabilities and cessation of the heavy handedness that is applied to the sector in raids. -Viset


IN response to Omicron hits Zimbabwe, THANDIZINTO says: Zimbabweans have to be vigilant in fighting the new COVID-19 variant, as well as other variants to come. I am slowly getting inclined towards thinking that COVID-19 is some kind of biological warfare.


IN response to No US$ bonus for nurses, NDABANENGI says: Government is not being fair. It should treat all its employees in an equal manner. Every one of its employees plays an integral role in the day-to-day running of government business. The authorities are feigning confusion, yet I believe this was a calculated move. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is playing games with the people. In actual fact, why should we keep such people in power? They should be kicked out come 2023 elections.


IN response to Exams invigilation: Govt reads riot act, PIKIRAYI says: The education sector is in a state of decay, and government is not doing anything to correct the anomaly. In fact, the authorities are pretending as if everything is normal. I believe they are telling themselves that the next leaders will fix this mess. The funny thing is that now I am 33 years old, the same people who are leaders now were leaders when I was born, and they were telling us that we were the future leaders. Surprisingly, they are still in power and messing up the country.


IN response to Zec bemoans paltry budgetary allocation, MAKHELWANE says: Whether it gets more money or not to run elections, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) does not have the capacity to produce credible election results. It is an extension of the Zanu PF regime. Zec failed to proclaim by-elections date and abrogated its duty to the Health ministry. What I know is that when Zanu PF wants things done, it will fund the electoral management body and everything will be all systems go. Zanu PF knows that even if some mogul funds Zec, no one will be able to question the funding since already everyone knows a budget was set aside, and also that no one will be able to get into Zec’s books to see where the money came from and how it was used.


IN response to BCC rakes in $455k in fines, MHONDIWA says: I like Bulawayo City Council’s way of doing things. Its councillors are somehow transparent, despite that many times Zanu PF throws spanners into their works.

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