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Mnangagwa fails to copy Ramaphosa's billions model, but social safety nets expanded

by Staff reporter
23 Apr 2020 at 07:47hrs | Views
Government has expanded social protection programs to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 and drought on people's livelihoods. When restrictions were imposed on March 30 to prevent the spread of Covid-19, drought had already left millions vulnerable and the lockdown - though necessary in saving lives - has come with hardships.

To alleviate challenges people are facing, Government is scaling up social protection programmes that include grain distribution to vulnerable communities, cash transfers for cereal, public assistance cash transfer for Covid-19 relief as well as harmonised social cash transfers. In addition, Government is also scaling up child protection services, provisions for the physically challenged as well as support to ensure the safety for those rendering essential services.

The social safety net programs mark significant interventions by Government to lessen the burden on the poor and vulnerable during a difficult period for the country.

In a statement yesterday, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Professor Paul Mavima said Covid-19 and drought had rendered the majority of citizens vulnerable and looking up to the state for support and protection.

He said a total of 7 114 tons of grain was distributed to vulnerable communities in all the eight rural provinces during the month of April 2020.

The Minister said during the lockdown nearly $4 million has been disbursed as cash for cereal beneficiaries to over 21 000 households in Bulawayo and Harare, while over $4, 7 million benefitted 26 140 beneficiary households in Bindura, Kariba, Kwekwe, Gwanda, Plummet, Shurugwi, Mvuma and Beitbridge.

Prof Mavima said under the food deficit mitigation programme, Government is covering 760 000 households and the World Food Programme is covering 600 000 households.

"In the districts where there is no harmonised social cash transfers, Government is assisting through the public assistance program, where vulnerable households get some cash transfers. A total of 8 551 beneficiaries were paid a total of $2 million during the same period to mitigate the effects of poverty and Covid-19. These payments are made on a monthly basis through the People's Own Savings Bank," he said.

$5 million has also been spent on returning residents placed on mandatory quarantine and the money covers food and other basic needs. In terms of child protection, Prof Mavima said the Ministry was providing shelter and other basic services for children and adults living on the streets. In Bulawayo, 31 boys are being kept at Jairos Jiri Training Centre.

Harare has 81 children, 149 adult men, 16 adult women and six toddlers accommodated at Beatrice Rehabilitation Centre, Mt Hampden Vocational Training Centre and Jamaica Inn Training Centre respectively.

In Mutare, 31 boys are being housed at Simukai Training Centre, while in Masvingo 11 boys and one man are placed at Mushagashi Vocational Training Centre for safety.

"Social workers within the Department of Social Welfare are moving these children to places of safety where they are being provided with meals thrice a day and other basics including blankets, clothing, soaps and other detergents," said Prof Mavima.

He said during their stay in these facilities they were profiling, assessing and documenting the identified children, tracing their families with 46 have reunited with their families. In terms of cash transfers for Covid-19 relief, Prof Mavima said the Ministry has submitted to Treasury a total of 201 631 beneficiaries whose livelihoods were affected by the measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus.

A further 800 000 beneficiaries were identified through an elaborate system of those who transact relatively low amounts on Econet's Ecocash platform and $200 million is earmarked for this programme.

For the physically challenged, Prof Mavima said the ministry was registering those whose income has been affected by Covid-19, while encouraging them to approach social welfare offices for assistance. He advised all persons living with disabilities across the country in need of assistance to approach Social Welfare Offices in their respective areas for registration, and any other assistance required like assistive devices.

"Persons with Disabilities across the country have been equally affected by the Covid-19 national lockdown given that most of them are street vendors. The Ministry has been registering those in the informal sector who have been affected including Persons with Disabilities. However, given that Persons with Disabilities are more vulnerable during this period, the Ministry will continue to register them for assistance so as to mitigate the adverse impact of Covid-19," he said.

For frontline workers in the fight against Covid-19, Prof Mavima said the Ministry remains seized with the responsibility of ensuring that occupational safety and health standards are maintained.

Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Lovemore Matuke said officers from his ministry identify vulnerable people irrespective of religion or political affiliation. He, however, said what caused the delays was the process of identifying proper candidates for payments.

He said the Government is paying $180 per months in urban set ups and food handouts in rural areas although there are some districts where the beneficiaries are getting cash.

Source - chronicle