By Mary Taruvinga
THE MDC Alliance has urged government to cushion all vulnerable families against starvation during the country’s 21-day national lockdown period declared to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Most Zimbabweans live from hand to mouth, often through proceeds they would have gotten from their daily activities within the informal sector.
As if their daily struggles were not enough, government imposed a three-week lockdown which meant they could nolonger leave their homes to fend for themselves.
The situation has forced some locals to violate the lockdown directive, often landing in the hands of the police, as they try some means to survive.
Against this background, the MDC Alliance says it was unfair for government to allow vulnerable members of society to suffer without it playing a part in addressing their plight.
“Zimbabweans are living from hand to mouth, surviving on less than US$1 a day. The majority are in the informal sector and survive on daily earnings,” said Maureen Kademaunga, MDC Secretary for Welfare.
“Having to spend 21 days locked down with no money, food and access to basic essentials is potential breeding ground for diseases and starvation.
“Already there are disturbing reports of Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) arresting those queuing to buy food at grocery shops.”
The government recently launched some mitigatory measures to cover one million vulnerable households under a Cash Transfer Programme.
Under this programme, the vulnerable households get $100 per month as a cushioning allowance.
Kademaunga said the amount was too little considering that the monthly basket for each family was not less than $800 per month.
“A pay-out of a $100 per household is insufficient to sustain a 21-day period.
“There has been a current spike in prices and a monthly breadbasket for a family of 5 will cost not less than $800.
“We therefore call upon the government to review the amount allocated per household under the Cash Transfer Programme.
“We also call upon government to put in place plans to cushion informal sector actors such as vendors who depend on a daily income since their daily economic activities have been disrupted by the lockdown,” she said.
The party said the Ministry of Social Welfare must work with local authorities and other community stakeholders to come up with an inclusive nonpartisan list of beneficiaries of this scheme.