BY MOSES MATENGA
Organisations representing informal businesses say only a few of their members have received pay-outs under the $87 million to cushion informal economy players during Covid-19 lockdowns.
The claims by the groups will put into question government’s claims that 310 000 people across the country were given allowances under the fund.
Samuel Wadzai from the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation Trust said only 2% of their members received money from the government.
“We are challenging the figures that the government has publicised that over $89 million was disbursed to the informal sector under the cushioning funds facility,” Wadzai told Standard People.
“As far as we are concerned, the survey we conducted and even consultations we had with some sister organisations in the informal sector, everyone is complaining that the money did not reach them.”
He claimed a few individuals benefited from the government funds and there were fears they were politically connected.
“Very few people, in fact less than 2% of the members whose details we collected, confirmed they benefited from these funds and it is not true that the government disbursed such huge amounts. So if they want to prove us wrong, they should publicise names of the informal traders, who benefited so that it is on record and we know,” Wadzai added.
Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations secretary-general Wisborn Malaya said only 500 people from his organisation benefited.
“I am trying to understand who benefited because we submitted a database with over 15 000 members across the 10 provinces. Less than 500 received money,” Malaya said.
“We still have some who said they only received NetOne cards without money and as far as the structures are concerned, they are not happy about that.
“We were hoping many would get the money, but we want to know the criteria used to pick those who benefited.”
Zimbabwe has between 2.5 million and three million people in the informal sector.
The government last year imposed one of its ailing parastatals, NetOne, to exclusively manage the transfer of millions of dollars meant to cushion vulnerable populations against the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
At that time, most of the would-be beneficiaries vowed to resist the move, preferring to use their Ecocash accounts as the majority of them were registered with that facility.
Investigations by The Standard in collaboration with Information for Development Trust, a Zimbabwean non-profit organisation supporting investigative journalism, revealed that names of some ruling party officials had been smuggled into lists of beneficiaries for the fund meant for the vulnerable.