By Oscar Makanga
PUBLIC service, labour and social welfare minister, Professor Paul Mavima has emphasised the government’s commitment to the improvement of the welfare of all citizens through the provision of affordable, safe and secure housing, as well as providing security of tenure and access to social safety nets.
Professor Paul Mavima was addressing the 58th session of the commission for social development in New York, United States which ran under the theme “Affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness”.
He pointed out that the theme is appropriate as it points to the need for the resolve and commitment to addressing destitution.
Professor Mavima also highlighted Zimbabwe’s commitment to sustainable development as enunciated in the 2030 Agenda, and the need to address the issue of homelessness as well as commitment to not leaving anyone behind.
He bemoaned the effects of Tropical Cyclone Idai that destroyed homes and livelihoods in the Eastern part of the country in March 2019 which killed thousands of people in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique, and left tens of thousands homeless and without livelihoods.
“Chair, for my country, Zimbabwe, the theme is appropriate in view of the devastating Tropical Cyclone Idai that destroyed homes and livelihoods in the Eastern part of the country in March 2019. The cyclone also affected Malawi and Mozambique. It killed thousands of people in the three countries, and left tens of thousands homeless and without livelihoods.” Professor Mavima said.
He said that natural disasters which are a result of climate change have curtailed the developing world’s efforts in redressing housing challenges despite developing countries being the least emitters.
“Cyclones are just but one manifestation of the effects of climate change in developing countries, whose other effects such as frequent droughts, floods, and rising sea levels, combined with political insecurities, armed conflict, and rising costs, have not only directly exacerbated homelessness but have also curtailed the developing world’s efforts in redressing housing challenges and provision of social safety nets.” He said.
Minister Mavima said that it is regrettable that developing countries are host to the larger percentage of those affected by homelessness, with more than 800 million living in slums or informal settlements, with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 238 million of those living in those deplorable settlements worldwide.
He highlighted various social issues that lead to destitution including lack of financial resources, forced evictions or land grabs, older women facing discrimination in areas of land and property rights and the elderly and orphaned children often finding themselves in the streets due to neglect.
The Government of Zimbabwe rolled out the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), to stabilise the macroeconomy. The TSP contains policy measures to enhance social service delivery, particularly targeting the provision of health services, education, and social protection.
Government and its partners have put in place various mechanisms to ensure that vulnerable groups have access to social services. These mechanisms include a Poverty Alleviation Programme whereby children are assisted with fees to attend primary, secondary and special schools, health assistance to vulnerable groups as a social safety net and, in the area of child protection as well as legislation and policy framework to protect persons with disabilities.
Professor Mavima took the opportunity to commend the Government of China for undertaking swift and robust measures to protect its citizens and the people around the world, as well as for its efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak. He also urged the international community to cooperate in the fight against this deadly virus.
By Oscar Makanga