The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu in Gwanda, Sunday News Reporter
AT least one million households will soon start receiving $300 per month as part of Government efforts to cushion vulnerable people whose sources of income have been affected by Covid-19.
The total number of beneficiaries might rise depending on the response from the public, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said yesterday.
Addressing a Zanu-PF Provincial Co-ordinating Committee (PCC) meeting in Gwanda Town, Prof Ncube said in Matabeleland South only, more than 65 000 households will benefit while the target for the country was one million.
“I want to talk about those people that are vulnerable and are on social welfare. Our target is one million people across the country. I think we have about 65 000 households in Matabeleland South that we are targeting with this programme. We want this number to rise and people come forward and register with the Department of Social Welfare,” he said, although he could not say when the money would be disbursed.
Prof Ncube said although the Government has not reached even half the number of beneficiaries that they intended to benefit as Covid-19 wreaked havoc, those that did not receive food relief would be given relief funds in cash.
“Those that don’t receive food will be given money. We have said we want to give them $300 per month. That’s what we have in store for now. The figure might rise but that’s what we have in store for now. We’re begging people to come forward and register. Our target is one million people but we have not even reached half that number. We want people to come forward because we know that right now, they’re suffering,” Prof Ncube said.
Explaining the Government’s welfare scheme further, the Chief Director of Communications and Advocacy in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Clive Mpambhela said the money has already been budgeted for and approved by Treasury.
“This will be a continuous programme. This is money that has already been budgeted for but the problem we’re facing at the moment is that not enough people are registering for it at the moment. So far, we have over 250 000 people that have registered but that falls far short of our target which is a million people,” he said.
He said the funds would be targeted at those particularly affected by Covid-19 restrictions.
“People should go to their social welfare offices and register and then they will start receiving their monthly payments. Like I said, this is money that has already been budgeted for. We appeal for people that are old or infirm or those that can no longer work because of the impact of Covid-19 to come forward and start registering for these funds,” he said.
Turning to food aid, Prof Ncube told the meeting that erratic rains received in the last summer season affected harvest but the Government was working flat out to ensure that there is enough grain in the country.
“We also know that in terms of the food situation, the supply of grain is complicated because it’s stored in different parts of the country and to deliver it in places like this is expensive and there was a time when the grain itself was hard to get. This was because we didn’t have adequate rainfall and we were importing from South Africa, Tanzania and even places like Mexico. We got 44 000 metric tonnes from as far off as Mexico at the beginning of the year. The supply is difficult but we are pushing and as people are harvesting now our farmers are delivering. We raised the delivery price so we expect delivery to improve,” he said.