BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
ZIMBABWEAN citizens are demanding that government should release a report on how it distributed the $18 billion stimulus package which was released last year by Treasury for vulnerable social groups to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The issue was raised on Tuesday in the National Assembly in a report on expanded sustainable development goals by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget which implored Treasury to increase funding for vulnerable social groups during the latest lockdown period.
The Budget and Finance Committee report said oral evidence from citizens in different areas of the country showed that they wanted to know how the stimulus package was spent.
“The public called for an increase in funding for vulnerable groups who are beneficiaries under social welfare, especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” part of the report read.
“It was highlighted that social safety nets should cater for the vulnerable groups in Zimbabwe, especially those in the SMEs during this COVID-19 pandemic.
“Members of the public also demanded to know the beneficiaries of the $18 billion stimulus package.”
While addressing a post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said government had funded 50 small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) for post-COVID-19 recovery and funding for more projects was to be disbursed.
“The nation is advised that funding for post COVID-19 recovery of 50 SMEs is at 84%,” Mutsvangwa said.
“Forty-six projects were identified and visited under the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), and 66 projects were identified and visited under Small and Medium Enterprises Development Corporation (SMEDCO).”
Zimbabwe Informal Sector’s Organisation leader Promise Mkwananzi said his organisation had made several efforts to engage government on how its vulnerable members could register in order for them to be eligible to be beneficiaries of the fund.
“None of our members has received the fund, although we made efforts to register them as beneficiaries,” he said.
“The relevant ministries did not provide information on what the possible beneficiaries would require for them to receive the funding from the stimulus package.
“There was no transparency. Instead of capacitating informal traders who contribute the greater part of the gross domestic product, government has demolished their business stands to destroy their livelihoods.”