Over 4 700 poor families in Masvingo exposed as govt sits on Covid-19 relief fund

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By Tonderai Saharo

Masvingo:  Some 4 791 vulnerable families in the province have failed to access a single cent after being identified as deserving beneficiaries of a government programme meant to cushion the poor against starvation during the national lockdown period against the spread of Covid-19.

The families, identified through the department of Social Welfare, were set to receive $200 each as cushioning allowance by government.

However, Masvingo provincial information officer, Rogers Irimayi told the province was still to receive any disbursements from Treasury.

“The department of Social Welfare has so far registered a total of 4 791 people for the Urban Relief Assistance in the three towns of Masvingo province.

“Masvingo Urban has 3 789 while Gutu town has 767 with 1 235 in Chiredzi.

“The province is waiting for the finalisation of the process such that the beneficiaries start receiving their allowances,” Irimayi said.

He said what has partially kept the families going at the moment were small donations made to them by the provincial Covid-19 taskforce which has so far distributed grocery hampers to the poor.

“Provincial Covid-19 Taskforce has also handed out 2 000 food hampers to vulnerable groups which include the disabled, the orphans in the orphanages, the aged in the old people’s homes and to others identified by local authorities in the seven districts.

“The taskforce is still assisting the rural people through the food relief programme.

“Those who wish to join others in assisting during this time of distress are welcome, ” he added.

The $200 bail out to vulnerable families has been described as a pittance in a country whose poverty datum line stood at $2 000 end of last year.

In US dollar terms, the amount is less than $4, only enough to purchase a 10kg bag of mealie meal.