Social cash transfer programmes are an increasingly popular component of social protection strategies across sub-Saharan Africa.
The provision of monthly payments to poor and vulnerable households can lead to multiple demonstrable benefits on the local economy, including improvement of health and education among young people.
Recently, government formed a consortium with international nongovernmental organisations—UKAid, Oxfam and Save the Children.
The consortium cash transfer is giving out cash to ultra-poor families to deal with hunger and economic shocks during this lean period.
Recently, I went to Mabwera Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Masumbankhunda in Lilongwe. At Khungwa, it was shocking how busy the trading centre was.
People were quarrelling, fighting and fast asleep due to heavy alcohol intake.
I stopped my bicycle taxi so that I know and understand what was going on. An older woman told me in low tones that they have just received Bushiri money.
I thought billionaire Prophet Shepherd Bushiri really had a cash transfer programme in my area.
But I later learnt that government and its partners are implementing social cash transfer programme.
However, there were still misunderstandings.
Initially, there were 10 households selected to benefit from the programme which is being implemented in my area, but the village head agreed with the beneficiaries that they have to share the money with villagers who were not intended beneficiaries.
The traditional leaders’ reasoning is that the money is free from government and everyone should have a share.
I do not know the conditions, modalities and procedure of how the social cash transfers are implemented.
This is not only happening in my village, but throughout T/A Masumbankhunda.
In fact, some village heads get the money from beneficiaries and run away with it claiming they want to share.
The intended beneficiaries are being deprived of their economic rights and empowerment.
This is uncalled for and inhumane.
It shows lack of fairness and leadership by the traditional leaders.
I hope the consortium will employ proper monitoring and evaluation strategies so that the cash transfer programme yields its intended purpose.
Most beneficiaries are the elderly, people with disability, child-headed ultra-poor families and poor farmers.
They need to realise that these social cash transfers are just temporary and they have to encourage beneficiaries to continue working in their fields so that they still harvest by the end of the season.
Meanwhile, the villagers who are benefiting at the expense of intended beneficiaries are leading useless and reckless life hoping to receive some more money by the end of the month.
If this is anything to go by, we are refuelling corruption, slackness, unpatriotism and handouts syndrome.
It is strange that everyone would like to have a share of the money. Resources are always minimal and chiefs must promote transparency in the way the programme is handled.
Let identified beneficiaries use the cash for their families.
The consortium has an obligation to provide civic education to the beneficiaries and traditional leaders because the money is not meant to be shared among all villagers.
Malawians need to know and appreciate that the programme only targets ultra-poor families. Not everyone can be on the social cash transfer scheme.
Besides, the intended beneficiaries must work hard in their respective fields and stand firm against traditional leaders that are abusing their powers. n