PARLIAMENT on Wednesday questioned the rationale behind government giving out a measly $180 COVID-19 assistance to the vulnerable people when the prices of basic foodstuffs and other important commodities have skyrocketed.
BY Veneranda Langa
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima was grilled over the issue during yesterday’s question and answer session by Joyce Makonya (MDC Alliance), who said the $180 was too little to even buy subsidised mealie-meal for vulnerable families.
Makonya wanted to know what assistance government was giving to families that used to survive through vending and self-help jobs as they were on COVID-19 lockdown.
In his response, Mavima revealed that while government announced that one million people would be assisted, only 200 000 have been assisted to date.
“We said we will target one million people and that their names should be written. Last week, we made mobile money transfers and paid 100 000 people,” Mavima said.
“We are looking at paying another 100 000 people so that they get $180 per person this week. The money is available and they should go to the Social Welfare ministry to get their names written down for assistance,” he said.
The minister said $8 million will be availed by the Finance ministry to assist vulnerable Zimbabweans and to distribute food to urban and rural areas.
“However, next month, the assistance will be increased to $300 per month. Roller meal should be sold at subsidised price of $70, but some crooks are selling it for more,” Mavima said.
Meanwhile, MDC legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga also raised a point of privilege with the Speaker Jacob Mudenda and demanded that female bathrooms in Parliament should have sanitary wear, or that it should be sold inside Parliament building.
“I want to bring it to your attention that our toilets do not have the equipment needed by female MPs such as tampons, panty-pads. Charity begins at home. We are not necessarily saying that it should be given to us for free, but female MPs can even buy it.
“Please ensure it is available in order to avoid female MPs constantly going out to attend to the call of nature because they do not have those things,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.
Mudenda said as a male, he understood the problem, but had all along been hesitant to go into female bathrooms to inspect if sanitary wear was provided for.
“From now onwards, I will be escorted by the Deputy Speaker (Tsitsi Gezi) who will be my vanguard to see if there is anyone inside the bathroom and I will personally check if those facilities are now in place,” Mudenda