Vendors across the country who prior the lockdown could hassle and feed their families have since been reduced to beggars, Zimbabwe Christian Alliance director, Reverend Useni Sibanda, has said.
Sibanda was speaking during a Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) stakeholder dialogue on economic governance initiative held on Zoom online platform Tuesday.
“What has happened is that because we had a vulnerable group already,” said Rev Sibanda.
“We know more than 5, 5 million in Zimbabwe needed food aid but added to this group now is the vendors, the informal sector people. These are people who normally were living from hand to mouth but because of Covid-19 they are now forced to beg. The food is no longer there, so now we have a humanitarian food crisis that has been brought by Covid-19.”
He, however, said Covid-19 had opened opportunities for NGOs to come in and assist people so that no one can die from hunger before Covid-19 gets to them.
“So we had civic society responding,” explained Rev Sibanda.
“For instance as churches, the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, already in Bulawayo, working with I am for Bulawayo against Covid-19, we have managed to feed about 2 000 households so far of people who desperately needed food aid. We got the people from Social Welfare, from church groups; from the vendors groups. We actually asked vendors to compile a list of their members who are vulnerable and we had to give them something.”
The civic society, Sibanda said, has been involved in the responses to Covid-19 for the simple reason that the pandemic started as a medical crisis but has grown branches.
“It’s now more of a governance crisis; it’s now a humanitarian crisis. Food aid comes with a lot of things as we know that the government also receives food aid. The civic society’s role now is to audit the manner in which the government was giving food and cash to people who were facing hunger. I think that is one big priority for us as a civic society.”