Humanitarian assistance allowances for vulnerable persons hit by Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown has been raised from $300 to $800 per month and another increase is planned for next month.
The Government allowance is designed to cushion the most vulnerable by ensuring they can buy basic food.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube announced the increase recently in the National Assembly during debate on the Finance Bill, which is meant to give legal effect to the 2021 National Budget.
Legislators raised concern that the $300 was no longer serving any purpose and it was imperative that Government reviewed the money to cushion vulnerable persons.
“I am pleased to report that the Government has since reviewed this amount to $800, effective 1st December, 2020, which will also be increased once more in January, 2021,” said Prof Ncube.
In an interview yesterday, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said his ministry was negotiating with Treasury to have the money further reviewed next year.
“We held meetings with Treasury and we had initially agreed that it be reviewed with effect from October this year but we did not get the resources. Our wish is that it be backdated to the period that we had agreed with Treasury, that is October but we are still holding consultations and we will be informing our stakeholders accordingly. We are happy with the review because the $300 was no longer tenable. We will also push that it be reviewed next year,” said Prof Mavima.
In his contribution in the National Assembly, Prof Ncube said Treasury had agreed that the Basic Education Assistance Module, BEAM, which assists poor families with support to ensure all children attend school will now include uniforms, in addition to paying tuition fees.
“The BEAM programme remains a critical instrument in ensuring that children from vulnerable communities access education. Noting the concern from the (education portfolio) committee and other Honourable Members, I have engaged the responsible ministry who have indicated that the $2 billion is sufficient. That is what they told me, to increase the number of beneficiaries from the current 930 000 to 1,5 million during 2021 including broadening the scope from school fees payments to include procurement of uniforms and books,” he said.
In April this year, President Mnangagwa signed a Zimbabwe Domestic and Humanitarian Appeal Assistance covering April 2020 to April 2021.
He said Zimbabwe needed US$2,2 billion worth of humanitarian aid over the next 12 months, with over two thirds for drought relief food and agriculture and US$220 million to fight Covid-19.
Since the advent of Covid-19 pandemic, Zimbabwe has been receiving assistance from corporates, individuals, other countries and development partners to help mitigate the effects of the coronavirus.