Sunday, 5 April 2020

$600M FOR SMALL BUSINESSES, VENDORS


More than $600 million will be extended to small businesses, vendors and the elderly by Government in the next fortnight as part of elaborate interventions to compensate for loss of income during the coronavirus-induced 21-day national lockdown.

The lockdown, which began on Monday, will run until April 19. People who were living on the streets have already been evacuated, while temporary settlements that had been built for Cyclone Idai victims in Chimanimani are being decongested.

The Sunday Mail has established that the ministries of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare; Women Affairs, Small and Medium Enterprises and Communty Development, as well as local authorities are working on a database for the affected groups.

Beneficiaries would soon start receiving cash benefits. “The disbursements are set to start soon. Once we have received the data and verify it, then we start disbursing the grants.

“The payment will be done within the 21-day (lockdown) period. “This programme is targeting those whose livelihoods were affected by the lockdown. The assistance they will get is short term.”

Ministry of Women Affairs, Small and Medium Enterprises Dr Sithembiso Nyoni said associations that represent small businesses were currently compiling lists of members expected to benefit from the facility.

“We have instructed the associations of small businesses to come up with lists of their members so that they can be forwarded to the relevant authorities,” she said.

Government has also availed shelter for people living in the streets.

Those rounded up have been taken to Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre for temporary shelter while long-term plans are being worked out.

In Chimanimani, Cyclone Idai survivors have been provided with protective clothing. 

The settlements have also been decongested. Chimanimani District Development Committee (DDC) chairperson Mr Joseph Manyurapasi said families living in camps have been adequately educated about the coronavirus and the national lockdown.

“The current set-ups in Chimanimani resemble most typical settlements in the country. There is enough space for people to practise social distancing,” he said.

“Unlike during Cyclone Idai where we were caught unawares, this time around we are prepared and we have been educating the people in Chimanimani on how they can protect themselves and prevent the spread of the disease.

“We have received protective clothing and sanitisers from Government.” Government has also drilled five boreholes at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare to ease the wter situation.

In addition, innovation hubs in universities countrywide have been mandated to produce hand sanitisers and protective clothing.

There is currently a shortage of hand sanitisers in most retail shops, with the few that are available attracting premium prices.

Increased local production is, however, expected to ensure affordable prices. Sunday Mail

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