Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation notes the release of the US$1 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDR) facility by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as reported by The Herald.
The amount will indeed go a long way in furthering economic development if used wisely and transparently. We also take heart that there will be an allocation towards the health sector, hoping that besides procuring vaccines, some funds will be channelled towards staff remuneration for all their sacrifices in the fight against COVID-19.
What is however of major concern to us as VISET is that the issue of protecting the vulnerable in society was mentioned almost as an afterthought, judging from the quoted speech by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube. Social protection, particularly for the informal sector which is now undoubtedly the place where the majority eke a living, cannot continue to be provided for through piecemeal, knee jerk reactions such as ‘cash transfers’ which cannot be verified as to by which means will have been employed in administering the transfers.
As informal sector representative bodies, we will not continue to aid the illusion that our members will benefit from these facilities yet we will not have been consulted from the beginning as to the modalities that can be applied. We are wiser after disclosures from the Office of the Auditor General’s report tabled in Parliament, confirmed what we had already discovered, that there was rampant abuse and corruption in the manner in which the initial COVID-19 cushioning fund was administered, and that the chosen money transfer agency had no means of verifying, something we feel was deliberate, given that this was not a process that had been tendered in the first place. Government needs to ensure that facilities such as the SDR make a meaningful impact in the grassroots communities if they are sincere in the attainment of economic prosperity for all.
As VISET we believe that only a properly constituted facility such as one administered through NSSA will pass the test, rather than the much touted cash transfer system that has proved vulnerable to abuse by politicians and bureaucrats to the detriment of the deserving poor.