The 60 000 vulnerable urban families in the Government’s social safety programmes are now receiving $1 500 a month with another 310 000 from the informal sector now registered as needing temporary help to cope with their loss of income during the high level lockdown needed to contain Covid-19 and having already shared $89 million.
The 60 000 core families benefit from the Government’s normal social welfare programmes meant to help those unable to care for themselves, typically the elderly and child-headed families.
The additional 310 000 individuals come from the informal sectors where they were living hand to mouth but coping until lockdown regulations temporarily closed down their earning activities.
Government announced the improved social safety nets through Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima.
“It is still going on and 60 000 families are now benefiting. The good thing about that one, is that we increased the amount which we disburse to $1 500 per family and individual.
“We have also continued with the Covid-19 assistance. The Treasury has concurred that we mark that allowance at $1 500,” said Minister Mavima.
Some payments for December not yet disbursed will be at the previous $800 rate with the improved $1 500 monthly rate starting from January payments.
So far $89 million has been transferred to those in the informal sector but Minister Mavima said the numbers under the informal sector programme would fall once they could start earning again. “We have registered about 310 000 individuals coming from the informal sector associations and also coming through our department of social development and names that came through local authorities.
“We will assess when the Covid-19 situation improves to see if it is still necessary to continue supporting the informal sector,” said Minister Mavima.
But the core group of 60 000 catered under the social services will continue getting assistance from the central Government since this group cannot fend for themselves.
This is part of the Government’s efforts to ensure that everyone is food secure and to cater for all who cannot fend for themselves for different reasons.
“The urban insecure households include the elderly, child-headed households and those who are chronically ill. We will continue to support them through cash transfers, they will not be affected by the Covid-19 situation.”
Over 3.5 million people are getting assistance from the Government, World Food Programme and development partners at the moment, many becauseof the drought over the last two years.
Numbers are likely to fall as record harvests are collected but regardless of how good the harvests are there will still be the same groups as in urban areas who need help: the elderly, child-headed families and the chronically ill.
Minister Mavima said Zimbabwe expected a bumper harvest this season on the back of good rains so many needing temporary help, especially in the rural areas who had no food, will be able to fend for themselves.
“Rural areas are going to be very interesting this year. We will have to go and re-identify because this year the harvest is going to be very good in many areas so we will need to go out there and look at the situation.”
“I know that a lot of transitory food insecure households are going to be out of Government assistance because this year the harvest is going to be really good. But those who cannot produce their own food they will need to be assisted: child-headed families, people living with disabilities, the chronically ill people, those we will continue to support,” said Minister Mavima.
Some crossborder traders had their business wrecked by the lockdown and have been benefiting from the Government schemes, the leader of their association, Dr Killer Zivhu, said when thanking President Mnangagwa’s administration for taking care of its people.
“Crossborder traders and some informal sectors were affected by the lockdowns, and we want to thank President Mnangagwa for taking care of those who are struggling to fend for their families. Whatever amount they are getting is a sign that the Government is concerned about the welfare of its citizens. The same Government is now procuring Covid-19 vaccines for free and we really appreciate it,” said Dr Zivhu.
Miss Natasha Mawere from Mutare, one of the beneficiaries for the informal sectors, said she was grateful of the support in the times of need.
Some beneficiaries said it was a noble idea but implored authorities to increase the allocations they are disbursing.
“The last time we got these amounts there were not yet at $1 500, yes we are happy they have increased it to $1 500. Our appeal is to improve the amounts further so that it can buy basic groceries for a family,” said Patrick Maphosa from Mberengwa.