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By Anna Chibamu
GOVERNMENT has withdrawn Covid-19 cushioning allowances saying communities are now self sufficient after the country recorded a bumper harvest this year.
Last year in April, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube released a statement saying Treasury had set aside $600 million in financial support over three months ($200 million a month) for small businesses and vulnerable people affected by the lockdown that had been announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
However, the disbursements have stopped according.
During a question and answer session in the National Assembly last Thursday, Senator Watson Khupe questioned government why the allowances had been cut to those deserving.
“Sometime last March on the onset of Covid-19, government came up with a very good plan of cushioning people living with disabilities so that they would receive stipends because of the challenges that they were facing and at that time they were hopeful that indeed they would receive this assistance. Has there been a shift in policy that has caused people not to receive money or maybe government is just having delays in having these funds disbursed? If it is just a challenge with the disbursements, when are these disbursements ever going to be made?” said Khupe.
Leader of government in Parliament and Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi revealed that the money was no longer available for those who are able bodied due to a bumper harvest that the country got this past cropping season.
“The money that the Hon. Member has made reference to, last year we used to disburse it to a lot of people because of the drought that was prevailing. At the moment, the Social Welfare Department is busy screening or vetting those people that need to be weeded out because we have a bumper harvest. If you are to observe, you will see that in the past, in the communal lands, everyone was entitled to receive this benefit, but at the moment they are vetting the rightful candidates that should receive,” stated Ziyambi.
He also added that the vetting exercise was on-going and payments would be backdated for those who qualify to receive the allowances.
“The money is supposed to be disbursed but whenever it is disbursed, it shall be backdated from the last time that it was paid to the deserving recipients of such aid.”