Churches concerned over rising poverty

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CHURCHES have raised concern over poverty levels in communities, warning the country to brace for a surge in mental health issues due to the current challenges.

According to the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) general secretary Kenneth Mtata, the church leadership held a context analysis meeting on Wednesday, where the issues of poverty emerged.

“Yesterday during a context analysis with church leadership in the western region, it became clear that people are: starving and in deep poverty, disappointed with political gamesmanship in the midst of a crisis and slowly losing hope about the future,” he said.

This comes at a time when people are struggling to make ends meet due to serious economic challenges, which have been made worse by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, which brought most world economies to a standstill.

With the situation dire for many people across the country, government has been promising to provide money to the most vulnerable members of the society.

The government claimed it had set aside over $600 million to cover one million vulnerable households under a cash transfer programme for three months, to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

The Social Welfare department was tasked to use its structures to identify the beneficiaries under the facility.
However, while the money was expected to be disbursed two weeks into the national lockdown imposed by the government to stop the spread of the disease, nothing has happened.

During the current lockdown, the local government also demolished stalls belonging to vendors. With an unemployment rate of over 85 percent, the country’s economy is largely informal.

However, the High Court, has since handed down an order directing the local government to stop the demolitions.
Mtata said people were starving as there were no social safety nets that had been effectively put in place.

“No social nets in place. The informal markets closed. Many cannot afford health services. It’s so sad,” he said.
While donations have been made by a number of companies and individuals towards alleviating the effects of the coronavirus on ordinary people, concerns have been raised over accountability of the products.

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