ONLY 10% of the population managed to access the social support grants from the government during the Covid-19 induced national lockdown, a new survey released this week by Afrobarometer reveals.
The findings are in sharp contrast to claims made by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube that Treasury had poured millions of dollars to support vulnerable citizens affected by the strict Covid-19 restrictions, which saw the closure of commerce, industry and schools.
In March last year, Ncube announced a US$25 million cushion fund to benefit poor people and small-scale traders whose incomes would be affected by the national lockdown.
However, the Afrobarometer report noted; “Only one in 10 citizens (10%) say their household received pandemic-related assistance from the government. More than four in 10 (43%) say the distribution of government assistance was unfair.”
“But a majority (54%) believe that ‘some’ or ‘a lot’ of the resources available for responding to the pandemic were lost to government corruption.”
The impact of the lockdown was also felt in most households where nearly 50% lost their jobs while a relative of one in 10 (8%) of the respondents became ill with coronavirus.
“Almost one in 10 respondents (8%) say they or a member of their households became ill with Covid-19, and almost half (47%) report that a household member lost a job, business, or primary source of income because of the pandemic.
“The loss of a primary source of income was more common in cities (57%) on average, including (62% in Harare) than in rural areas (40%). Older respondents (30%) are less likely to have suffered the loss of income than younger citizens (47%-54%).”
The survey also said most citizens had doubts on the government’s ability to ensure the procured Covid-19 vaccines are safe.
“A majority doubt the government’s ability to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines are safe, and fewer than half say they are likely to try to get vaccinated.
A majority (55%) of the respondents were also worried that politicians were using or would use the pandemic as an opportunity to increase their stranglehold on power and authority.
However, despite these negative perceptions, most citizens, according to the survey, endorsed the government’s overall management of the pandemic, which banned unnecessary movement without official letters, and mass gatherings.
Sign up for free AllAfrica Newsletters
Get the latest in African news delivered straight to your inbox
Almost finished…We need to confirm your email address.To complete the process, please follow the instructions in the email we just sent you.
There was a problem processing your submission. Please try again later.
“Almost three-fourths (72%) of Zimbabweans say the government is justified in using the police or military to enforce public health mandates, such as lockdown orders, mask requirements, and restrictions on public gatherings, during a health emergency,” the survey noted.
Last year, the government brought in the army to assist the police in enforcing the lockdown measures across the country.
However, according to the survey; “More than three-fourths (77%) of Zimbabweans say it was ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to comply with imposed lockdown or curfew restrictions. Even so, citizens overwhelmingly (81%) agree that despite their negative impacts on people’s livelihoods, the restrictions were necessary to limit the spread of Covid-19.”
A high number of citizens also supported the government’s decision to close schools for most part of 2020.
“(81%) agree with the government’s decision to close the schools, although most (85%) say they should have reopened sooner.”