Tuesday, 26 May 2020

WE WERE SOLD A DUMMY : THE VULNERABLE


Government has revealed that it has disbursed $200 000 out of the $600 million promised to vulnerable citizens during lockdown.

This came out when senator representing people with disabilities (PWDs) Watson Khupe on Thursday last week quizzed Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare deputy minister Lovemore Matuke over social assistance which is yet to be disbursed to PWDs.

Khupe said PWDs were sold a dummy when they were asked to open mobile money transfer accounts, but nothing materialised.

“PWDs were instructed to buy cellular network lines so that money could be transferred through mobile banking. It is now three months since COVID-19 began and nothing has been given to assist the people,” Khupe said.

Matuke said the distribution was taking place at a snail’s pace, adding that to date only $200 000 has been distributed.

“Most people will need to be registered and it might take time, but in the next few weeks you will see progress. We have paid $200 000 to date. We need to know where those people live so that we can connect to them,” he said.

In May, government announced a $600 million safety net cover which it said would be disbursed to a million vulnerable households through a cash transfer programme to cushion them during the coronavirus-induced lockdown for three months.

However, the information about who the beneficiaries of the $600 million were has been sketchy.

Matuke’s revelations came at a time non-governmental organisations like the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) have demanded transparency and accountability on how the $600 million package and the recently announced $18 billion to scale up production in all sectors of the economy in response to COVID-19, would be used.

Zimcodd said government must embrace the principles of transparency, accountability, inclusivity and participatory decision- making when implementing programmes of national interest.

“Considering that the impacts of coronavirus are multi-sectorial, any decision should be informed by wider consultations which are key in increasing the responsiveness of the stimulus package to the needs and aspirations of the beneficiaries,” the organisation said.

Meanwhile, Econet Wireless’ Higherlife Foundation has donated food hampers to 300 PWD’s families in Gweru.

National Association of Societies for the Handicapped chairperson Ishmael Zhou said each family received 20kg mealie-meal, cooking oil, rice, sugar, spaghetti, beans, salt, chunks, washing and bathing soap.

“The disability fraternity would like to express its gratitude to the Higherlife Foundation for donating hampers to 300 households for persons with disabilities in Gweru on Saturday,” he said.

“The assistance came as a cushion to these families at a time when the country is under lockdown.

Higherlife Foundation has indeed established itself as a friend and life saver to many citizens in Zimbabwe including PWDs.” Newsday

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