By Lynette Manzini
FreeZim Congress leader Joseph Makamba Busha has castigated government for allocating inadequate resources meant to cushion food insecure and vulnerable households during the twenty one day lockdown, meant to stifle the spread of COVID19.
To assist vulnerable households during the twenty one day lockdown, last Monday, government announced that one million Zimbabweans were set to benefit through the Cash Tranfer Program where ZW$200 million will be monthly for the next three months.
The allowance comes at a time World Food Program (WFP) had estimated that 5.5 million and 2.2 million Zimbabweans, in rural and urban areas respectively, were food insecure. Furthermore Zimbabwe is struggling with a high unemployment rate that led to the growth of the informal sector which is further affected by the lockdown.
Each beneficiary will receive ZW$200 per month which is equivalent to US$8 using the official rate of 1:25 or US$5 using the black market rate of 1:40. an amount dismissed as insufficient by the FreeZim leader.
“The funds allocated by government are not enough, given the signs and unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, to cater for food or non food items such as medicines that could be required.”
Despite the funds being insufficient to meet basic needs Busha suggested the need to ensure disbursements were non partisan especially at a time the nation and the world was experiencing the negative impacts of the corona virus pandemic, both social and economically.
Complaints about politically partisan distribution of food which is rampant in the rural areas were justified by the 2018 findings of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission that unearthed negligence of duty on the part of community leaders.
“This must be supervised by independent non governmental organisations so that the distribution is not partisan and as a country we have a history where in the rural areas people get food based on the political party they belong to,” Busha said.
In addition he said, “Families in need of assistance should be made to go to the nearest schools to register for assistance and to make sure the process is transparent and inclusive.”
Busha implored government to be impartial in this exercise so as to show that they represent every Zimbabwean and emphasised that the distribution should not be done through the ZanuPF party structures.
The FreeZim leader constested in the 2018 presidential elections and came a distant fourth after Emmerson Mnangagwa of ZanuPF, Nelson Chamisa of MDC Alliance and Thokozani Khupe of MDC.