By Sifiso Nhlabatsi | 2020-04-25
MEMBERS of Parliament spoke in one voice as they rejected the cash based transfer (CBT) which was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku.
Masuku had informed parliamentarians that the proposed CBT plan will cost about E270 million and government will pay E45 million per month.
The beneficiaries, according to the deputy prime minister, so far were about 301 762 people from the four regions of the country.
MPs made it clear that it is not a good idea to give people cash, and preferred food parcels.
They said it has been witnessed before that money has a tendency of brewing trouble as it could be mismanaged.
The MPs indicated that in the past such grants invited elements of criminality as unscrupulous people rob beneficiaries.
They argued that it is not right for government to say it will cost it E20 million more to carry out a food distribution exercise.
The MPs stated that government has trucks which it uses to ferry regiments during national events, adding this should also apply in the distribution of the food.
The MPs said distributing cash instead of food defeats logic because government will be distributing cash and at the same time preaching a message that people must stay home in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The members of Parliament said once people have money they will want to go to town for shopping sprees.
They said it would be much better for government to bring the food to the people.
The parliamentarians also raised a concern in that the number of beneficiaries is too little when compared to the population of 1.3 million of Eswatini.
Siphofaneni MP Mduduzi Simelane said the assumption that the rest of the population can fend for itself is offside.
Simelane said this was more like a war and government was fighting an invisible enemy. He challenged government to dig deeper in its pockets as this was no longer about affording but about survival.
Simelane called for an expanded figure from the 301 762 current beneficiaries.
MPs said beneficiaries must rather be given food vouchers which they can produce at shops in order to buy food instead of cash.
They said this would also assist those who might be tempted to misuse the assistance if it comes in the form of cash.
The concern was that people might also use the money not to buy food but to settle their debts.
The Siphofaneni MP further suggested that instead of government recalling food that has already been distributed at schools it must distribute the food for the feeding scheme to residents around that particular school.
He said fetching the food from the school for redistribution could be costly for government. Members of Parliament also expressed their disappointment for not being involved when the plan to distribute cash was hatched.
They said it looks like they were being set up against the people. The Members of Parliament said to them it looks like they were now being told on what would happen going forward.
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