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MBABANE - “We also need food.” This was said by Chairperson of the Caregivers Association, Dumisile Simelane, yesterday.
Simelane stated that some caregivers were also affected by COVID-19 hence the need for food aid.

She was speaking on the morning national radio programme ‘Letishisako’ yesterday. Currently, caregivers receive a monthly incentive of E350. The money (E350) is half the amount which is distributed to beneficiaries who have been hit hard by COVID-19.
Most vulnerable households are receiving food parcels amounting to E700 or E700 cash in the ongoing distribution, which has covered more than 25 constituencies.
Interestingly, the beneficiaries are identified and registered by the caregivers in most communities across the country.

Simelane stated that they (caregivers) could not survive on E350 as they were equally affected by COVID-19. “We have families to look after with the little that we have and we cannot survive on E350 only. It is unfortunate that we have been barred from registering for the food aid. We were told that we can survive because we get the monthly incentive. Some caregivers have been hit hard by COVID-19 and they need food aid,” she said. Simelane decried the exclusion of caregivers in the identification and registration of people affected by the effects of COVID-19 in her constituency and other parts of the Lubombo Region.
“I am a caregiver under Gilgal Constituency. Caregivers were excluded in the ongoing registration in some parts of the region. Instead, the inner councils set up committees to deal with registration even before the COVID-19 outbreak.


The committees were also tasked with the registration of people who had been hit hard by COVID-19,” she said. Simelane stated that caregivers were so touched when they heard the NDMA mentioning that they (caregivers) were part of the registration exercise. She claimed that caregivers had no peace of mind since people heard that they were part of the registration exercise. According to Simelane, they were accused of discriminating against other people during the registration process yet they were never involved.  “People want answers why they missed out on the ongoing food distribution. They sometimes demand masks from us,” she said. In response, NDMA Director Programme Victor Mahlalela stated that all people who were hit hard by COVID-19 deserved to be registered for the food aid. Mahlalela said there was a verification process whereby the NDMA made final assessments before approving the lists of beneficiaries.  Mahlalela emphasised that the NDMA was alive to the fact that many people had been registered for food aid, but that did not mean they would all qualify.

The director mentioned that they had been made aware of an existing relief committee at Gilgal. He said there was nothing wrong about relief committees at chiefdom level. However, he said the NDMA was yet to ascertain the truth of the matter concerning the caregivers at Gilgal. He said, ideally, caregivers formed part of the relief committees, which included different stakeholders such as community police members, bucopho and inner council representatives. This, he said, was because the stakeholders knew the needy people from the community level.

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