By Anna Chibamu
ONLY 201 000 from the initially targeted one million vulnerable citizens will now benefit from the Covid-19 vulnerability assistance fund, Social Welfare Minister Paul Mavima has confirmed.
He said the new figure was reached after a new database screened and discovered 201 000 people were in need of government assistance after they were affected by the coronavirus induced national lockdown.
Zimbabwe is now on an indefinite lockdown with the informal sector, schools and churches still closed.
“We now have a new database of 201 000 people,” said Mavima.
He was speaking on the sidelines at the burial of national hero Absolom Sikhosana at the National Heroes Acre in Harare Wednesday.
“The payments for this month started last week where people are receiving $180 for this month and all the 201 000 people will receive this amount each.
“As of June 1, 2020, the amount has been upped to $300 person. The programme will continue until the end of the year, funds permitting,” he said.
Last month, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said the government had set aside $600 million to offer monetary assistance to one million vulnerable people before the number of beneficiaries was reduced to 200 100.
However, contradicting statements have been issued by both Ncube and Mavima on when the money would be disbursed and how the beneficiaries should be selected.
Mavima said the screening process was redone to weed out undeserving recipients while ensuring only genuine people affected by the lockdown benefited from the programme.
He said those qualifying for assistance would now swiftly receive their $300 every month.
However, beneficiaries of the fund are likely to find no joy due to the spiralling in prices of basic commodities.
A 2kg packet of sugar now costs more than $100 while a 2-litre bottle of cooking is going for $200, the only two commodities that a beneficiary can buy today.