THE Social Cash Transfer (SCT) scheme is a fraud and meant to keep beneficiaries in perpetual poverty because vulnerable people cannot survive on an increment of only K20 per month, says Dr Sketchily Sacika.

According to the 2021 national budget, the amount under the traditional SCT programme per household is expected to be increased to K110 from the current K90 per month, while the number of beneficiaries is projected to increase to 994,000 households next year from the current 700,000 households.

But in an interview, Dr Sacika described the K20 increment announced by Finance Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu in his budget speech as “a big joke”.

“The Minister of Finance announced in his budget speech that the government had decided to increase the Social Cash Transfer benefits to slightly over K100 per month. My view is that, in its present form, the Social Cash Transfer scheme is a big joke and a political fraud because it is not intended to address the poverty of the people, but to cheat or give the impression to Zambians that government is concerned about addressing the poverty of the people. The cash payments made under the scheme are laughable and ridiculous and are not intended to alleviate the poverty of the beneficiaries, but to keep the beneficiaries in perpetual poverty,” Dr Sacika said.

“No responsible government, in my view, can operate such a scheme; only a government of men and women who don’t care or who does not know what they are doing can operate such a scheme. With the massive devaluation of the kwacha, how can K100, which is equivalent to US $5 a month, satisfy the basic needs of anybody? It’s impossible, it’s laughable.”

He further urged Zambians to reject the scheme in its current form and demand for an increase in the benefits paid.

“Zambians must reject the scheme in its present form and demand that the benefits paid under the scheme are raised to a level where they will satisfy the basic needs of the beneficiaries. Zambians must also demand that the administration of the scheme is depoliticised. We cannot have our taxpayers’ money used to buy political support or to buy votes, this is unacceptable,” Dr Sacika added.

“Any social security scheme, which doesn’t address the basic needs of the beneficiaries is a useless and big fraud! Apart from the ridiculous and laughable cash payments, the Social Cash Transfer scheme does not cover everybody who should be covered, it is done selectively and the payments under the scheme are not paid regularly. Sometimes, according to the Trends Report, the beneficiaries go for over a year without receiving their payment! The scheme has also been politicised at present, but next year it will be revised in order to bribe the people to vote for PF.”

He also said the SCT scheme was an indictment on the PF government, which showed how unconcerned it was about the welfare of vulnerable Zambians.

“The character of any nation is judged by how its leaders treat the vulnerable members of society. The Social Cash Transfer scheme is an indictment on the PF government! It shows just how unconcerned the government is about the welfare of the people. I must repeat, the Social Cash Transfer scheme is not a favour the government is doing to the people of Zambia, it’s not a favour at all; the scheme is an obligation the government has because the government is there for the benefit of the people and not for the benefit of the government,” said Dr Sacika.