‘Government fails to provide social safety nets’

CIVIL society organisations have expressed concern over government’s failure to provide promised coronavirus (Covid-19) cushioning allowances and social safety nets, a development which has left many vulnerable members of the community failing to meet their basic needs, the Daily News reports.

This comes as the World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that 8,6 million people will be facing starvation by December 2020.
The civil society organisations, including the Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (Walpe), Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT), Mutasa Youth Forum (MYF) and the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (Wcoz) said there was need for the government to strengthen social security nets particularly for women, children, the disabled and elderly who are suffering owing to the economic crisis and the impact of Covid-19.
“The country’s economic hardships, which have been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, have not been friendly to anyone. You can only imagine how more difficult the situation is for people living with disabilities, particularly women and children who are normally side-lined from economic activity and key positions of power.
“There is a need for the government to strengthen social security nets and to ensure that the Covid-19 allowance is also accessed by people living with disabilities across the country.
“The situation has become dire for people living with disabilities across the country, with some failing to access basic needs including healthcare and food,” DZT executive director Barbra Nyangairi said.
Wcoz said its latest survey of the eastern and northern parts of Zimbabwe noted that the elderly were living in dire conditions owing to the unavailability of social safety nets.
“We continue to highlight deeply distressing reports regarding the intersection of Covid-19 on older persons.
“Survey reports for eastern and northern Zimbabwe indicate that within the survey population, 79 percent of older persons cannot afford protective materials such as face masks to prevent them from contracting Covid-19.
“This is further evidence to support calls for a State-driven programme to provide free masks and other protective clothing to indigent persons and communities.
Wcoz further indicated that 45 percent of older persons experienced while 68 percent of persons over 70 years have had difficulty accessing medicines.
“Eighty-two percent of older persons are bearing a burden of care and support to others during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This figure is deeply problematic as it reveals the extent to which unpaid, unrecognised and undervalued care work is a burden on Zimbabwean older persons and women which is not being ameliorated or eliminated.
“Ninety-seven percent of older persons have had to reduce the quantity of food eaten while 58 percent have had to reduce the quality since the outbreak of Covid-19. Implications cannot be overstated,” Wcoz said.
Efforts to get comments from Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima and deputy minister Lovemore Matuke were unfruitful as their mobile phones went unanswered.
However, speaking during a post-Cabinet media briefing held in Harare on Tuesday, Mavima said government was working towards improving the Covid-19 cushioning allowance and reaching the targeted 1 million people, adding that Treasury was yet to avail the necessary funds.

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