Zimbabwe Announces $600 Million Package for Vendors, Elderly During Lockdown

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MORE than $600 million will be extended to small businesses, vendors and the elderly by Government in the next fortnight as part of elaborate interventions to compensate for loss of income during the coronavirus-induced 21-day national lockdown.

The lockdown, which began on Monday, will run until 19 April. People who were living on the streets have already been evacuated, while temporarily settlements that had been built for Cyclone Idai victims in Chimanimani are being decongested.

Our Harare Bureau has established that the ministries of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare; Women Affairs, Small and Medium Enterprises, as well as local authorities are working on a database for the affected groups. Beneficiaries would soon start receiving cash benefits.

“The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare is working with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Small and Medium Enterprises, local authorities and relevant associations to come up with the database of those affected by the 21-day lockdown,” said the Ministry of Public Service in e-mailed responses.

“We are still in the process of compiling the lists. The disbursements are set to start soon. Once we have received the data and verified it, then we will start disbursing the grants. The payment will be done within the 21-day (lockdown) period. This programme is targeting those whose livelihoods were affected by the lockdown. The assistance they will get is short term.”

Ministry of Women Affairs, Small and Medium Enterprises Dr Sithembiso Nyoni said associations that represent small businesses were compiling lists of members expected to benefit from the facility.

“We have instructed the associations of small businesses to come up with lists of their members so that they can be forwarded to the relevant authorities,” she said.

Government has also availed shelter for people living in the streets.

In addition, innovation hubs in different universities countrywide have also been mandated to produce hand sanitisers and protective clothing. There is a shortage of hand sanitisers in most retail shops, with the few that are available attracting premium prices. Increased local production is, however, expected to ensure affordable prices.

Only businesses that offer essential services will be open during the 21-day period. Zimbabweans have largely heeded the call to curtail movements and stay at home. However, it has not been easy for vulnerable members of society.-SUNDAYMAIL

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