COMMUNITY Development and Social Welfare Minister Kampamba Chewe says some of the people receiving K1,600 are Social Cash Transfer (SCT) beneficiaries who have not collected their monies since July, due to technical issues.

And Patriotic Front (PF) deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri has urged Chewe to explain the money being dished out on various media platforms to avoid speculation.

Phiri said this on Monday morning when she called Hot FM radio’s breakfast show to explain what she knew about the money being distributed after several callers phoned the station to inquire about it.

“I was trying to call the Minister of Community Development so that I could ask her to find time to come and explain this; she should go on every radio station and explain, but she didn’t answer my calls. However, I will follow her and talk to her so that she can come and explain this. But I have heard on another radio station, there is someone who called on that radio station and what she explained is that for the past four months, her grandmother has not been receiving that K400 they get every month from social cash transfer and as a result, they got all that money in arrears. Additionally, she also received another K800 as contingency COVID-19 fund coming from government partners. So now that is coming to about K2,000 or so. But I will still try to follow the honourable minister so that she can speak to you (the media) and clear the air,” said Phiri.

“I don’t know why they were getting their names and NRC details, that’s for the minister to come and explain. But from what I heard from that caller, they explained to say the beneficiaries were presenting their NRC numbers and they were being given free MTN sim cards which they would be using to receive money. But I am not a competent person to speak about this, let the minister come and speak to you.”

And speaking on the same programme, Chewe explained that there was nothing suspicious about the money being given.

“We are distributing the COVID-19 fund and also the drought fund and we are also distributing the normal social cash transfer fund. You have asked me about the COVID-19 fund, the COVID-19 fund is currently being distributed in Lusaka. We initially launched the COVID-19 fund with our cooperating partners a month ago. Some of our cooperating are UNICEF, the World Food Programme… so in particular in Lusaka, we are working with the World Food Programme. So each beneficiary who is on our existing case load is eligible. I want to tell you who is eligible for the ordinary social cash transfer; on this one, we look at people living with disabilities, we look at people that are vulnerable and child headed households. In the informal sector, we are looking for people that have lost jobs for example because of this pandemic where the bars have closed. We are looking for people that during this pandemic probably lost merchandise like the marketeers. Government and its cooperating partners came up with this to help cushion some of the problems we are facing in the communities,” Chewe explained.

“So those already on the normal social cash transfer are receiving their monies normally. The extended informal sector, we have been validating them with the help of our cooperating partners. So they are supposed to get K800 which we began to pay for the July/August. The August/September began on the 19th of August. So we had individuals who, because they did not know how to use their pins, their pins got blocked, these are the ones that are getting the K1,600. Those that were able to redeem their K800 are the ones that are getting K800 again (for August/September) because we pay per cycle. So it must be clear that we are not paying a backlog of what was supposed to be paid four months ago, we are only paying those that could have made mistakes with their pins and ended up not redeeming their money, those are the ones getting K1,600. But for the other ones who had no such issues, they are getting their usual K800.”

Asked if she would be willing to go on radio to clear the air surrounding the matter, Chewe said she would be more than glad to do so.

“I will be more than glad to do that. But this is a noble programme where our cooperating partners have come on board to help members of our community, government through his Excellency the President has also come on board to help members of the community, those that are not existing on our case load to help them cushion some of their problems. So unscrupulous people should not take advantage of a good programme. That is why you have seen people come out in numbers wanting to be on this programme because it is a good programme and indeed it is helping members of our community,” said Chewe.