Mat South social welfare beneficiaries sing the blues

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THE ELDERLY and disabled people in Matabeleland South are reportedly not receiving government financial assistance amid reports that the Finance and Economic Development ministry has not been releasing funding allocated to the Social Services Department due to financial constraints.

CHIEF REPORTER

Matabeleland South senator Watchy Sibanda (MDC-T) last week sought clarification from Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Nicholas Goche in the Senate why the elderly were being neglected.

“I would like to find out from the minister of Labour and Social Welfare what their position is in terms of people who are supposed to be benefiting from social welfare at local level all over the country.

“From my constituency Matabeleland South, nothing has been deposited into the accounts of the elderly people or disabled people in the rural areas. Could you please clarify when you are going to improve or deposit funds into their accounts?”

Responding to Sibanda, Goche said his department was thin on funds.

“I was not aware that no funds have been deposited in the beneficiaries’ accounts. We will have to look into that. I must point out that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has been having financial constraints and they have not been giving us the money that is supposed to go to the Social Services Department,” he said.

“We have not received regular funds to pay beneficiaries, but I am aware that there were funds that were given to the department and these were being distributed to the various post offices where beneficiaries receive their funds from.”

Goche said he was keen on having a list of Matabeleland South beneficiaries who were supposed to receive their social benefits in order for him to assist.

Earlier this year, the Public Service ministry permanent secretary Ngoni Masoka told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service Labour and Social Welfare that only $15 million was budgeted for the Basic Education and Assistance Module this fiscal year; a figure he said was grossly insufficient.

Almost one million orphans and disadvantaged children who depend on State assistance to pay school fees risk dropping out of school due to non-payment.