Opposition parties wary of partisan food distribution


Welshman Ncube

THE country’s opposition parties are having sleepless nights over revelations that the ruling ZANU-PF party is using food aid to entrench its grip on power.
As the food security situation rapidly deteriorates, as a direct result of the El-Nino-induced drought, the opposition parties are ringing the alarm bells.
An estimated quarter of the country’s 13-million people is in need of food aid in the current agricultural season.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Perception Survey for this year, the food crisis currently facing Zimbabwe would escalate to starvation levels soon, with people in the rural areas set to be the worst affected.
The grim predictions come as Zimbabwe was recently ranked 18th in the top 20 countries most prone to hunger in the 2015/2016 year, after scoring 30,8 out of 50 on the International Food Policy Research Institute hunger index.
In its December report, titled “Supporting the Opposition in Zimbabwe a Costly Ordeal,” the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) noted that food violations were on a steady increase, corroborating the opposition’s stance that its supporters were being given a raw deal by the ruling party.
“Food and input distributions have opened up ways of exploitation by those in privileged positions…This new manipulation has seen those linked to the opposition in some instances being charged more than ZANU-PF members, which is another literal price they must pay for being associated with the opposition,” partly reads the report.
According to ZPP’s findings, the three provinces which experienced the most food violations were Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West.
“From September to December last year, ZPP has recorded 135 incidences of food violations, where those associated with the opposition have been denied food aid,” said the ZPP report, which further added: “So far the trend has shown a worryingly sharp increase in the incidences with December recording 62, which is 72 percent more than the 36 recorded in November.”
Government estimates that it would need US$300 million to avert a hunger crisis, and has so far sourced US$200 million to import grain, mainly for the commercial market.
Relief agencies are mobilising nearly US$60 million in funds to help augment government’s efforts.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) spokesperson, Obert Gutu, said the party was extremely concerned with the politicisation of food aid, particularly in rural areas.
“The ZANU-PF regime has always used food aid as a tool for political patronage over the years. There is a very serious drought this year and millions of Zimbabweans will be in need of food aid,” he said.
“Already, we are receiving reports from different parts of the country where MDC-T supporters are being denied food aid provided by the government. Food aid should not be politicised and all deserving people should have access to food aid regardless of their political affiliation,” he added.
Welshman Ncube’s breakaway MDC formation was also critical of the unfolding humanitarian crisis.
The party said the denial of food aid to opposition supporters in this drought period was criminal and should be attended to urgently.
“Punishing opposition members through denying them food, at a time when some people are now living on wild fruits and water just to keep body and soul together, is disgraceful and satanic. The hijacking of food aid as well as agricultural implements by ZANU-PF should stop forthwith,” said Kurauone Chihwayi, the MDC spokesperson.
The People’s Democratic Party spokesperson, Jacob Mafume, said the ongoing drought was a God-send for ZANU-PF as it would now use starvation as a part of its election strategy.
“They will definitely bottleneck the supply of food into the country and not allow many players to participate,” he said.

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