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– NewsDay

GOVERNMENT says it has discontinued COVID-19 stimulus package rollout, but might consider another one for the informal sector should another lockdown be put in place.

The COVID-19 social protection scheme, which was targeting vulnerable households affected by the pandemic, benefited only 300 000 people from the targeted one million households.

Zimbabwe has had two lockdowns since last year March when the first COVID-19 case was recorded in the country.

In August last year, government announced plans to pay $300 per household, but Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima told NewsDay that the figure had risen to $1 500 per household.

Mavima, who was speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing eighth Africa Public Service Day commemorations in Victoria Falls this week said the move to stop the programme was necessitated by the opening up of the economy.

“The general one which was targeting loss of income, especially in the informal sector, stopped in December,” Mavima said.

“That was mainly because we had opened up the economy. Even though we have reintroduced some of the restrictions, we haven’t really stopped people from going to work. The loss of income element was solved by reopening the economy.

“I think if it gets to another situation where there is a complete lockdown and people in the informal sector are unable to work, then we may consider and make a collective decision to reintroduce the scheme.”

Mavima said government was, however, still running the welfare programme.

“About 300 000 people benefited from it. Up to September-October, we were giving $300. It was meaningful at that time, but then the last two months we raised it to about $1 500. We are happy that we managed to reach our citizens through the stimulus package.”

There were concerns when the programme was launched that only Zanu PF-linked informal traders would benefit.

The money was disbursed several months after the country introduced its hard lockdown on April 1 which forced informal traders out of work and without income.

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