• One COVID-19-related death was recorded during the week under review, compared to the 3 recorded the previous week.
  • Broadband penetration target of 60% was exceeded by 0.8%.
  • The TFCA Development Plan will cost US$170 000. 

Harare-In the fifth post-cabinet press briefing an update on the country‘s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic was received which reported that 1 death was recorded during the week under review, compared to the 3 recorded the previous week. However, there were 26 new admissions, compared to the 21 recorded the previous week, with three being in the intensive care unit. Despite the continuous decline in fatalities, the importance of upholding national precautions was maintained. Marginal success was reported as there was an increase in the national vaccination coverage for the first dose to 61.1% from the 60.8% which was recorded previously.

Cabinet received a report highlighting deliverables classified according to the fourteen Thematic Working Groups (TWG) that were created to drive the NDS1 and achieve its set targets.

Under the Economic Growth and Stability TWG, the nation was informed that the target of achieving a monthly inflation rate of 26.6% in Q4’22 was successful, given that the actual average month-on-month inflation rate for the period was 5.21%. The Minister of Finance, in his address, attributed this to the tightening of monetary and fiscal policy, and the review of public procurement processes to ensure value for money payments to contractors. Moreover, in relation to macroeconomic stability, the report on the NDS1 showed that the country’s budget deficit was below the targeted 1.65% to 0.9%, which was well in conformity with the SADC Macro-economic Convergence Criterion of fiscal deficits below 3%.

Strength and growth were highlighted, with the nation being informed the mining sector grew by 10% in 2022, driven by higher international mineral prices, the resuscitation of closed mines, and the expansion and opening of new mines. As a result, gold production throughout the year improved to 36 tonnes, from 31.5 tonnes in 2021. Strength was also seen in the manufacturing sector which the report showed to have grown to 66%, surpassing the year’s target of 65%.

Critical to further economic development, the nation is being informed that a cumulative 400 kilometres of the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway were upgraded and opened to traffic. Also, under the Infrastructural and Utilities TWG, as many as 19 airlines were flying into Zimbabwe by the end of 2022.

Progress was also achieved under the Digital Economy TWG, where the Broadband penetration target of 60% was exceeded by 0.8%, while internet speeds increased in line with technological advancements. Geographic broadband network coverage exceeded the 70.61% target and reached 70.68%. The proportion of central Government organisations with a web presence reached 100%, exceeding the planned 59% quarterly target. A survey will be undertaken to establish the functionality of the websites.

The Minister of Finance went on to inform the nation that, regarding Housing Delivery, financiers and other stakeholders are preparing to commence preliminary works on the Smart Cities pilot projects for Melfort, Figtree and Chirundu. Moreover, 77.5% of households are now accessing clean and safe water, and 63.8 hectares have been allocated for the settlement’s densification programme. This is set to empower Zimbabweans and support their livelihoods. In line with the aforementioned with the intent to empower the populace and develop human capital, the nation was informed that the population of learners taking up STEM subjects rose to 44% from the initial target of 43%. Moreover, the qualified critical skills workforce target of 30 500 artisans, technicians and technologists performed exceptionally well and received 38 119 graduates from the November-December 2022 HEXCO examinations. There were also increases in the number of innovation hubs and industrial parks within the period. The NDS1 target of rehabilitating infrastructure at 250 schools was fully achieved and the government was able to build new schools through its Public Private Partnership schemes.

With a focus on the importance of youth participation, the report showed that youth participation in decision-making positions was enhanced by 5.2%. Furthermore, youths who accessed empowerment opportunities in all sectors of the economy exceeded the initially targeted 20 000 and reached 1.1 million. The massive increase was attributed to enhanced entrepreneurship training, access to business loans through Empower Bank, and business management training conducted by the Zimbabwe Youth Council.

In the Fourth Quarter of 2022, Z$26 million targeted for Inter-Government Fiscal Transfers was transferred, and 6.5 million out of the initially targeted 6 million citizens were able to directly access services from projects funded through Inter-Governmental Fiscal Transfers.

The report also sought to highlight progress made in improving peace and national cohesion. This is critical in the management of political and country risk. In the report, the nation was informed that Peace Committees were established in 33% of the country’s 70 districts during the Fourth Quarter of 2022.

The final agenda that received Cabinet attention was the Memorandum of Understanding between the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Republic of Zambia on the Development of the Lower Zambezi Mana Pools Transfrontier Conservation Area (LOZAMAP TCFA) which was presented by the Attorney-General. The nation was informed that Government seeks to conclude an MOU with the Republic of Zambia to foster transnational cooperation in ecosystems management. This agreement aims to, amongst other things, develop transboundary tourism as a means for fostering regional socio-economic development. Moreover, it will develop frameworks and strategies to enable local communities to participate and derive tangible benefits from the management and sustainable utilisation of natural resources. The TFCA Development Plan will be wide-reaching and will be funded by the Global Environmental Facility 6 at a cost of US$170 000.

-Equity Axis News