The government has withdrawn Covid-19 cushioning allowances saying communities are now self-sufficient after the country recorded a bumper harvest this year.
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube last year said Treasury had set aside $600 million in financial support over three months for small businesses and vulnerable people affected by the COVID-19-induced lockdown.
However, the disbursements have stopped.
The development came out during a question and answer session in the National Assembly last Thursday when Senator Watson Khupe questioned the government why the allowances had been cut to those deserving. Said Khupe:
Sometime last March on the onset of Covid-19, government came up with a very good plan of cushioning people living with disabilities so that they would receive stipends because of the challenges that they were facing and at that time they were hopeful that indeed they would receive this assistance. Has there been a shift in policy that has caused people not to receive money or maybe government is just having delays in having these funds disbursed? If it is just a challenge with the disbursements, when are these disbursements ever going to be made?
Leader of the government in Parliament Ziyambi Ziyambi responded saying the money was no longer available for those who are able-bodied due to a bumper harvest that the country got this past cropping season. Said the Justice Minister:
The money that the Hon. Member has made reference to, last year we used to disburse it to a lot of people because of the drought that was prevailing. At the moment, the Social Welfare Department is busy screening or vetting those people that need to be weeded out because we have a bumper harvest. If you are to observe, you will see that in the past, in the communal lands, everyone was entitled to receive this benefit, but at the moment they are vetting the rightful candidates that should receive it.
He also added that the vetting exercise was underway and payments would be backdated for those who qualify to receive the allowances.