The Zimbabwean government is facing a substantial financial shortfall in its social welfare programme that assists underprivileged and orphaned children with school fees. July Moyo, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, disclosed a staggering ZWL$200 billion deficit for the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM).
During a recent pre-budget seminar in the new Parliament building in Mt Hampden, Moyo highlighted a significant discrepancy between the allocated budget and the actual funds released for BEAM. Of the ZWL$86.9 billion revised budget, only ZWL$58.4 billion has been made available, leaving a shortfall of ZWL$28.6 billion. This sum falls short of the current needs, as the government is addressing payment arrears from the previous year, now amounting to ZWL$278 billion.
The BEAM programme has been under scrutiny for persistent underfunding, which has led to questions regarding its efficiency and integrity, particularly from teacher unions in May, who raised concerns about potential corruption.
Despite these financial challenges, the government has managed to provide educational support to 1,515,047 students through BEAM this year, aiding 730,321 boys and 784,726 girls, along with care and protection services for 59,701 children.
Additionally, Moyo reported that the ministry extended food assistance to 3,796,961 individuals, distributing 4,400 metric tonnes of grain to refugees and asylum seekers at the Tongogara Refugee Camp.
The minister also expressed concerns about a “brain drain” in his ministry, with skilled social development and labour officers leaving the country for better opportunities, which he said is further hampering the ministry’s capacity to deliver services effectively.