Gweru resident associations and civic organizations operating in the city have petitioned government over the welfare of locals in the city who they say have not received assistance towards their sustenance during the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
The residents associations and civic society organizations numbering 10 said they are concerned over government silence on rate hikes that came at a time when the general populace, majority of them informal traders were cut off from their source of incomes.
“(Government) agencies have failed to distribute a social safety net “rescue package” meant for those needy in Gweru who have been impacted negatively by the Covid-19 induced lockdown and such subsequent exercises as the demolishing of vending marts.
“The lockdown which has unfortunately coincided with the rise in council tariffs has attracted a massive outcry from the residents; 80% of who earn their living through the informal sector which has been put to halt by an indefinite and clearly prolonged lockdown…,” reads part of the petition highlighting their concerns.
Residents say since most ratepayers have no income, they will end up drowning in debt.
They also say there is no surety over council commitment to complete destroyed vending stalls by the time these informal traders wish to resume work.
Gweru Vendors Association vice chairperson Angeline Zivanai said although council had promised to complete construction on the new vending marts and Mtapa rank by June 1; work on the ground reflected otherwise.
“They promised that both vending marts and toilets would have been complete but we doubt that. I have been there and realized that they have just tried to level the ground. I do not seeing them completing by 1 June,” Zimbawayi said.
The petition by the 10 organisations compelled government to ensure that the needy are assisted and make sure funds are availed towards the reconstruction of stalls.
“…the Minister of Finance to make all efforts humanly and legally possible to access additional funding so as to put in a robust, sustainable and transparent Rescue Relief Package embarked of addressing the Covid-19 induced economic fallout.
“…the Minister of Finance to expeditiously release funds to Gweru City Council to assist Council in the construction of new vending marts,” demanded the petitioners.
“Compel the Minister tasked with distributing Covid-19 induced social welfare benefits, working together with the Minister of Finance to release funds and distribute the benefits in a transparent and non-partisan manner as Covid-19 knows no color,” the demands further read.
The five residents associations that signed the petition included Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association, Gweru United Progressive Residents and Ratepayers Development Association, Gweru Residents Forum, Gweru United Residents Association and Gweru Residents Associations.
Civil Society Organizations that signed the petitions included Gweru Traders Association, Gweru Ministers Fraternal, Gweru Vendors Association, Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe and National Council of Disabled Association of Zimbabwe.