GOVERNMENT has told informal traders and vendors to “relax” following growing impatience over the late disbursement of COVID-19 relief funds to see them through the lockdown period.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
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 COVID-19 lockdown measures.
In recent days, informal traders and vendors have been slowly finding their way back into the streets to eke a living, arguing the stay-at-home measures left them worse off, with no income to feed themselves.
The Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) said it was disheartening that the government had not honoured its pledge to assist the informal traders and vendors, adding silence from authorities on the issue was “irritating”.
“It was only through a radio programme on Monday where I managed to make a call on radio to ask the Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima, who was the guest, about the cushioning funds,” BVTA executive director Michael Ndiweni said.
“He said that the money will be available by the end of April 2020, but we are already a day before May. He said vendors and informal traders should expect $200. I told him that the $200 is too little because it only buys a bottle of cooking oil. Prices of basic commodities have skyrocketed. He said they will discuss it as government.”
Mavima was not answering his mobile phone and had not responded to questions sent via his mobile phone. However, Women Affairs, Community and SMEs minister Sithembiso Nyoni said informal traders and vendors should be patient.
“That facility is administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. However, remember there are almost a million people who are supposed to benefit, and honestly, the disbursements cannot be done in a single day,” Nyoni said.
“They are not sitting on the funds. There are some people that have received the money; and what I am saying is that they will get the funds.”
The funds are disbursed via the government’s mobile telecommunications-owned company, NetOne.