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$4.8bn set aside to support households, says Govt

by Staff reporter
31 Jan 2021 at 09:37hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT claims it has set aside $4,8 billion to support households affected by the heightened lockdown measures.

The disclosure by the government follows a request by human rights lawyer Denford Halimani, who wrote a letter on January 8 to the Public Service ministry requesting information on state aid to needy people during the national lockdown.

Responding to the letter, acting secretary for Public Service Fredson Mabhena said the government identified people for assistance during the national lockdown and money had been allocated for the vulnerable households.

"During the initial lockdown in 2020, the ministry of Public Service and Social Welfare provided cash transfers for the informal sector employees whose livelihoods were affected by lockdown measures. To date a total of 309 146 have been provided with cash transfers," he said.

"During the lockdown, a total of $4.8 billion has been set aside to provide support to an estimated 500 000 households who may be affected by the heightened lockdown measure."

Government, last April set aside an $18 billion economic stimulus and social package to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown. Of the money, $600 million was set to go to the informal sector, mainly vendors, with each individual expected to get at least $200.

The money was, however, not released for over three months, with a few of the targeted one million beneficiaries eventually receiving $600 each for three months. The payout is equivalent to about US$7.30 using the auction rate, money sufficient to buy only a 10kg bag of mealie meal and a two-litre bottle of cooking oil.

There were claims that the beneficiaries were selected on political lines.

Mabhena said they have a running contract with OneMoney (NetOne) and disbursements for the cash support would be made through the platform and the ministry was footing the cost of procuring the NetOne line and debit cards for beneficiaries.

He said the ministry was targeting support for all social protection programmes that are household-based.

"Apart from the Covid-19 relief funds, government is implementing other social protection programmes to cushion communities against the harsh hunger and starvation induced by the drought," Mabhena said.

"A total of 735 455 households are benefiting from the food deficit from the urban cash for cereal programme. In addition, there are development partners complementing government efforts where they are reaching out to 341 018 beneficiaries in urban areas with cash transfers and another 1 167 441 beneficiaries in rural areas."

Mabhena said the ministry was utilising the database established last year in which 309 146 households already continue to get disbursements.

He, however, said a number of households provided incomplete addresses at the time of registration last year, hence it had been difficult for the department of social development to locate the households.

"It is of paramount importance to have complete addresses since Potraz (Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe) regulations require the physical location of every person who procures a mobile cellphone line.

"It is the ministry's desire to reach needy communities. The department of social development has staff shortages which may result in the department taking longer to reach the needy.

"Therefore, the needy who have never registered before or those who registered previously and have not yet been issued with a NetOne line are encouraged to approach the district offices at their convenience to register for support," said Mabhena.

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Source - the standard

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