Social Welfare Department blames cash crisis for failure to disburse $9 million

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

A government department has blamed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for its failure to disburse $9 million meant for vulnerable groups.

The money allocated to the Ministry of Social Services, according to Auditor General Mildred Chiri had to be returned despite the fact that most Zimbabweans are struggling to put one meal on the table.

The department’s social protection specialist Mildred Mapani said there were unable to handover cash to the vulnerable people in 23 districts as part of the Harmonised Cash Transfer (HCT) programme because they could not access cash from the RBZ.

“We are supposed to get this money in form of bond cash not transfer, but the RBZ could not avail enough cash for us to distribute to the beneficiaries.

“And for this whole year we have only managed to get enough cash to distribute to two districts when we are supposed to get cash to distribute to 23 districts,” said Mapani. “At the end of the year you haven’t utilised the budget and it’s beyond us.”

Zimbabwe has been struggling with cash shortages that seen ordinary people sleeping in bank queues for years now.

Mapani added that her department does not have resources to implement the cash transfer programmes effectively.

“You are given money to distribute to beneficiaries, you don’t have the means to do that, you don’t have the vehicles.

“They will tell you that this money cannot buy vehicles, how can I take the money to the person, am I supposed to use a bus to Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe (UMP) to distribute the money,” the bureaucrat asked.

“There are two things, availing the money and transportation.”

Chiri’s 2018 report indicated that the failure to disburse the cash benefits had worsened the plight of vulnerable communities with children exposed to forced labour among other ills.

“The $9 559 722 earmarked for the HSCT programme was recalled by the Treasury on December 31, 2018 after realising that no disbursements were made thus depriving the beneficiaries of a better standard of life,” the report had said.