ZIMBABWE:Govt mulls increasing Covid-9 relief payments

Patrick Chitumba
GOVERNMENT has said there is room to increase the $300 Covid-19 relief payments to vulnerable households after it emerged that only 200 000 people out of the targetted one million had registered for the programme as the amount of money is too little.

Treasury said it had budgeted $2,4 billion towards the cash payments to the vulnerable people who are not forthcoming.

Only 200 000 vulnerable people have so far registered to receive the cash payments against the Government target of one million.

Intended beneficiaries are said to be shunning the programme because the amount paid is too little.

A 2-litre bottle of cooking oil now costs $370 which is more than what an individual is paid as Covid-19 relief per month.

Addressing a Zanu-PF Midlands Provincial Co-ordinating Committee (PCC) meeting in Gweru on Saturday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said there is room to increase the cash payment so that beneficiaries are able to buy basic commodities.

He however said more people should register so when Government increases the amounts, at least one million people benefit.

Prof Ncube said Government is actually worried that there has been a low up take by vulnerable people.

He said Government had budgeted about $2,4 billion to support vulnerable people during the lockdown.

“We want those that are vulnerable to register with the Social Welfare Department for the $300 which will increase going forward. We are sincere about that because we had budgeted about $2,4 billion for this year. We want more people to register because our target was one million people but we have just 200 000 people,” he said.

Prof Ncube said it was a criminal offence for shops to refuse local currency.

He urged people to report such malpractices to the nearest police station so that perpetrators are brought to book.

Prof Ncube said to date, score of businesses had been prosecuted for refusing to accept the local currency.

Chief Nemangwe said there are many vulnerable people in his area who wanted to benefit from the cash payments but they were saying the amount is too little.

“We have so many vulnerable people in Gokwe who need this money. Shops are however shunning mobile money and as such many people are no longer motivated to register for this assistance,” said Chief Nemanagwe.

Mberengwa East MP Cde Tafanana Zhou urged Government to use the existing list of vulnerable people from the department of Social Welfare to provide assistance.

He said in his constituency there were many vulnerable people in need of food aid and the $300 could go a long way if the Government subsidised mealie-meal is made available.