By Dave Chibesa –
UNVEILING ‘The New Dawn’s current socio-economic development strategy calls for urgent access details to be an instant game-changer!
In this context, initial observations promote the view that beneficiaries of the two packages, Social Cash Transfer (SCT) and Constituency Development Fund (CDF) appear far from grasping this matrix.
Money should fall onto a planned base of reality to enhance systematic disbursement.
Therefore, there is need to ‘demystify crucial details’ to allow a myriad of beneficiaries while ensuring that anyone did not reap where they sowed nothing!
To begin with, the two packages enumerated above have existed long before the New Dawn administration took office in August last year and during the bygone era, the two funds were shrouded in a suspected ‘mist of graft’ at ministerial level and the rest is history albeit this scenario would need further probes for perfection.
Secondly, the ‘modus operandi’ of the two regimes strikes a radical contrast.
In the past, a category of workers, like women stone crushers, hardly had a glimmer of hope in their tasks.
Today, these could form co-operatives and may fathom a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) blossom!
While the previous regime operated on a somewhat ‘shoestring’ figure of K1.6 per constituency, (a laughable figure to the average development observer in comparison to the new one), the New Dawn administration saw the need to raise this figure more than a 100 per
cent to K25.7 per constituency!
Now, herein lies the difference.
Because the K1.6 million was meagre, it became ‘a drop in the ocean’ but massively clamoured for on partisan lines.
Besides, it became a secret of the reigning Member of Parliament (MP) anywhere in the 150 Constituency domain and therefore, their exclusive preserve to manipulate as they saw fit.
Today, indications show a glimmer of hope for transparency in the disbursement of the CDF.
This is because the United Party for National Development (UPND) mooted system has allowed citizens in these constituencies to form companies or cooperatives and later apply for some cash.
To compliment this interconnectivity exists the ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
To underscore this observation, President Hakainde Hichilema stressed in a recent statement that he was closely watching those wielding the reigns of authority.
The latter could have noticeably seen his intolerance of corruption as the media orchestrates his anti-vice drive each day.
To date, however, indications are that ignorance on CDF and SCT still permeates various localities in the country.
But for the moment, it seems the aura of ‘partisan consideration as a major criteria for access to these funds appears absent.’
This author visited a Chawama Township woman who collects disused plastic bottles for sale.
She heaps these in sacks and then sometimes, a vehicle of another trader who buys the plastic rubble comes in to collect the assorted waste destined for sale.
The woman, Stelia Maluko, recently bemoaned: “Look at that, that is too heavy a load and sometimes they pay small amounts like K33 or K25 for those bags,” she said, pointing to the huge grain bags which she uses for storing plastic rubble comprising disused plastic
containers of soft drinks, juice and cooking oil of several sizes.
As she spoke, she was clutching pieces of cardboard paper which she also stacks in some grain bags for sale.
“I have discovered that this cardboard paper weighs more than the plastic bottles,” she explained.
She further said she had been toiling for more than 20 years living this way! On further scrutiny, one could see that although she was hard working, she lacked help from her siblings, apart from her grandchildren.
Sometimes, in the process of picking her special garbage, some people take advantage of her by asking her to sweep their premises for nothing, she lamented.
“These people are not kind. They make you sweep without pay because you pick some plastics from their premises,” she groaned.
The same applied to a nearby Government hospital where she also sweeps in a similar manner on a voluntary basis.
Waste collectors like her work in zones and she said she belonged to ‘Zone Three’.
Maluko said she had collected waste for many years and in the process, she had heard some people being told to write application letters recently.
Asked whether she knew about the Government money called ‘Social Cash Transfer (SCT)’, she shook her head as she revealed that once, she had gone to some offices near the local market where she was told that “she had not yet reached the qualifying age to benefit from
the social cash transfer”.
On this score, one would deduce the need for the SCT concept to be explained further to the populace on the basis of ‘vulnerability’.
Maluko also pointed out that she had a few friends living the same way.
She said of the friends was in a critical condition because both she and her husband seemed incapable of fending for themselves due to constant sickness.
“It seems people like that should also get that ‘Government money’ but they don’t. Last time I went to those offices, I saw that some people were favoured,” Maluko said in Nyanja.
Standing beside her house next to a meandering footpath in the locality, she pointed to a blossoming structure she is building piecemeal.
Perhaps she might just be availed the funding details to quicken her resolve to complete her stalling concrete structure taking shape beside the old house.
One would see the resolve of an old woman intent on developing herself in the midst of challenges that crop up on the economic horizon day by day.
Major among them – upkeep.
There is a multitude of manpower that could be organised to form groups that would facilitate registering cooperatives and companies.
Going by the current trend, it is also evident that there is apt need for an intensified public relations exercise to promote awareness on SCT and CDF.