BENEFICIARIES of the Social Protection Fund administered by the Department of Social Services are reportedly struggling to access their monthly cash payouts this year as Treasury is facing financial constraints.
The cash squeeze has mostly affected school-going children, elderly people and people living with disabilities who depend on government subsidies.
Labour and Social Welfare minister Nicholas Goche told Senate last week that the department was no longer receiving regular payments from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
Goche’s admission came after Matabeleland South Senator Watchy Sibanda (MDC-T) asked him to explain why the elderly were being neglected.
“I would like to find out from the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare what their position is in terms of people who are supposed to be benefiting from social welfare at local level all over the country.
Replied Goche: “I was not aware that no funds have been deposited into the beneficiaries’ accounts. We will have to look into that. I must point out that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has been having financial constraints and they have not been giving us the money that is supposed to go to the Social Services department.
“We have not received regular funds to pay beneficiaries, but I am aware that there were funds that were given to the department and these were being distributed to the various post offices where beneficiaries receive their funds from.”
Earlier this year, secretary for Public Service Ngoni Masoka told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service,
Labour and Social Welfare that only $15 million was budgeted for the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) this year, a figure he said was grossly insufficient.
Almost one million orphans and disadvantaged children who depend on State assistance to pay school fees risk dropping out of school due to non-payment.