FIREBRAND opposition leader Linda Masarira has written to President Emmerson Mnangagwa calling on him to suspend the payment of rentals for the next three months and waiver water bills for the duration of the lockdown. Masarira also urged the President to waiver the payment of schools fees for the whole year and suspend the payment of Zimra taxes as both businesses and citizens are reeling from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Read the full letter below:
Dear President E.D. Mnangagwa
& Honourable Cabinet Ministers
Date: 17 April, 2020
Covid 19, Lockdown and Livelihoods
Mr President, l write to you, first and foremost, as a Zimbabwean concerned about what l am experiencing and what other Zimbabweans are experiencing during this lockdown to curb the spread of #COVID19.
I remember in one of your speeches in 2017 you clearly highlighted that you are a listening President.
I represent my fellow financially incapacitated members and other vulnerable and marginalised Zimbabweans. Most Zimbabweans are surviving from hand to mouth and the lockdown has made their lives miserable and unbearable.
Cases of domestic violence have increased during the lockdown and most of the victims are now vulnerable and psychologically affected.
Lives have been locked down and most of us have no reserves to sustain us and if you, Mr President don’t get the severity of the imminent danger most of us are facing, families will collapse, very few will survive the aftershocks of the lockdown.
The very loss of life we are trying to avoid as a nation has found other ways of creeping up to us.
I am therefore appealing to you to assist us with the following:
• Water Bills – waivers for the period of the lockdown or more
• Electricity – rebates during the same period
• SME – Trading Licences waiver for the same period
• Operating Licences – waivers for the year especially in the Tourism and Taxi business in areas like Victoria Falls, Kariba, etc
• School Fees – waivers for the whole Academic year in ALL Government Schools and tertiary institutions
• Zimra Tax freeze – on SMEs and possibly Corporate companies to allow time for recovery
• Small Grants to SMEs, Sole Traders and Informal Operators to allow these to restart since most have little if any financial reserves left.
• For rentals to be suspended for the next 3 months to allow people to recover considering that about 90% of our people are in the informal sector and not generating income.
This, as far as l am concerned, will go a long way in cushioning us and giving us a better restart to our livelihoods after the lockdown.
I have faith that you will understand where l am standing and the plight of people I represent who are now emotionally strained by the hardships they are going through.
My plea is not for a particular special person but for all Zimbabwean citizens that have been affected negatively by this pandemic.
Sanctions have not spared citizens from hardships, and now there is the add-on of the CoronaVirus. It is going to be hard for the Government to prioritise, l am begging you that as you review the lockdown with Honourable Ministers to consider the plight of the citizens who are now living in near destitution and distress.
I Thank You.
Linda Tsungirirai Masarira
Concerned Zimbabwean Citizen and LEAD President