Bulawayo vendors give up on relief funds

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VENDORS and informal traders in the second largest city have thrown in the towel following the government’s “failure” to honour its pledge to disburse coronavirus (Covid-19) relief funds.
Early this year, the government announced a cash transfer programme targeting the vulnerable in society, among them vendors and informal traders, whose means of earning a living were disrupted by the pandemic.
However, despite the pledge, none in Bulawayo has received the funds. The facility is administered by the Labour and Social Welfare ministry.

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) director Michael Ndiweni yesterday said the government was still mum on the issue.

“The government has said nothing so far. We now feel it was just pie in the sky. We doubt they will come to the party. As for us, we have since moved on with our lives.

“It seems the promise was made to massage people’s emotions and expectations. It is, however, insensitive for the government to give people false hope, especially under these tough economic times,” Ndiweni said.

In recent days, informal traders and vendors have been slowly finding their way back into the streets to eke out a living, arguing the stay-at-home measures left them worse off, with no income to feed themselves. Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima had indicated that the money would be available by the end of April, but till today the vendors say they were yet to receive anything, let alone communication on what is
happening.

Each beneficiary was then expected to receive $200, an amount that the supposed beneficiaries said was too little, due to the prevailing hyperinflationary environment.

The funds were supposed to be disbursed via the government’s mobile telecommunications-owned company, NetOne. Mavima was not reachable for comment yesterday

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