By Alois Vinga
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has slammed government for poor Covid-19 social support measures highlighting that workers and ordinary citizens will emerge biggest losers after the country’s prolonged lockdown period.
Government recently announced it had increased cash transfers to the vulnerable to the tune of $1 500 per month, up from $300.
All pensioners are currently getting US$30 per month to cushion them from the Covid-19 lockdown shocks on the economy, among other measures.
But speaking to NewZimbabwe.com Wednesday, ZCTU president Peter Mutasa described the measures as falling far shorter than expected.
“We do not believe that the government has come up with any meaningful measures expected by citizens during such difficult times.
“We cannot even talk about the so-called cash transfers or cushions as anything reasonable,” he said.
The trade union leader said many vulnerable citizens have been languishing in poverty since the first wave last year after government dispensed the cash transfers to less than a quarter of the targeted million households.
Mutasa said part of the strategy should include reasonable social assistance with payment of an amount at par with the food poverty line for a start.
“The amounts paid then and now are nugatory and not enough to afford monthly decent meals and needs.
“It is therefore important to point out that we need a real and humane national response that addresses the unmet needs of the people,” he said.
Mutasa criticised government for not taking heed of advice to set up an independent and inclusive taskforce which includes government, different specialists, labour, business, civil society and the informal economy players to deal with the crisis.
He also bemoaned that the government continued to lag behind other regional peers such as Namibia, South Africa and Botswana which are taking various initiatives to assist their vulnerable citizens.
“Workers who have been at home must be compensated and there must be a moratorium on retrenchments.
“A scheme that includes employers and government contributions can be arranged.
“We are disappointed that during such a time when workers and citizens are facing serious challenges, the government is increasing taxes and fares for public utilities,” he added.