By Alois Vinga
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration of exposing Zimbabweans to the risk of starving to death while observing the COVID-19 lockdown due through failure to address welfare issues.
The government recently identified one million households through the Social Welfare Department to benefit from a $600 million kitty availed to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.
Each beneficiary will receive $200.
However, according to the ZCTU secretary-general, Japhet Moyo the cash transfers are inadequate considering the high cost of living in Zimbabwe.
He went on to propose government should pay the beneficiaries using the food poverty line of $1 863 or the gazetted minimum wage of $2 500 per household.
“Surely the $200 being allocated to the vulnerable is inadequate and we suggest using either the food poverty line of $1 863 or newly gazetted minimum wage of $2 500,” said Moyo.
“Failure to address the issue of hunger will lead to heightened tensions between the government and citizens. This must be addressed urgently for workers and the poor to comply with the lockdown.”
He also blamed Mnangagwa for failing to address the shortages of mealie-meal, a staple food in Zimbabwe as well as the spiralling prices of basic commodities.
“Many are afraid they will die of hunger while attempting to avoid COVID-19. Even electricity and water should have been provided for free especially to the poor citizens during the extension because it is now beyond the reach of many and cooking gas is expensive too,” the labour group leader said.
Moyo said ZCTU had expected Mnangagwa to announce a moratorium on the termination of employment contracts and guaranteeing income security for every worker.
Other expectations were the pronouncement of measures to assist ailing businesses which are unable to pay salaries, bank loans, rentals and other operational costs in order to protect jobs.