AfricaCorona VirusZimbabwe

Absence of social safety nets to cushion needy people a major concern

By Almot Maqolo

Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) says the country’s indefinite lockdown extension has negatively affected people’s incomes where informal traders constitute a larger proportion of the workforce.In face of an imploding economy, the majority of citizens continue to rely on hand to mouth as a means of survival. ZIMCODD said it is no doubt that the indefinite lockdown means increased hunger, deprivation and starvation for many as the informal market “doors” remain shut.

According to Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, the total consumption poverty line (TCPL) for an average of five persons rose 21.3% to $6 420, 87 in March 2020. Only those with a financial muscle are still able to cope with the continually rising cost of living at the backdrop of a runaway inflation. Whilst the government is doing whatever it takes to respond to the health emergency, ZIMCODD said it is also important to consider people’s livelihoods.

“The absence of meaningful and effective social safety nets from to cushion the vulnerable including the informal players who have been hard hit is a cause for concern. “This is despite the fact that citizens are contributing to the national fiscus through paying of various tax heads, the funds which might have been used to cushion the vulnerable in times like this where all sectors of the society are feeling the pinch,” it said.

Previously, the southern African nation approved a paltry ZW$200 once-off cushioning allowance for needy people on the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare database to cover their needs during the 21-day national lockdown period.“On another note, the delays in the disbursement of the ZW$200 cushioning package further exposed the government’s inefficiency such that the government has a mammoth task to restore public confidence.”

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