88-Year-Old Starves To Death In Gutu As Food Is Politicised

GUTU – Ndakaziva Mhizha, an 88-year-old woman from Nyazvidzi East in Gutu who has not been able to access food handouts from the Social Welfare Department at Mpandawana because she lives in a predominantly MDC T community has starved to death.

This was said by Nyazvidzi East Farmers Association chairman Peter Clever Chidhanguro Mhaka.

Mbuya Mhizha who stayed alone is said to have hopped from one homestead to another scrounging for food until she eventually lived on wild fruits. She died a week after a relative took her to Bulawayo when her situation became hopeless, said Mhaka.

Appeals to the local councillor, party officials and the social welfare department to allocate her food fell on deaf ears despite that Nyazvidzi (Ward 4) is receiving 250bags of maize from Government every month.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission has said that it is unlawful to distribute food along political lines and it will be prosecuting those found violating human rights to food.

President Mugabe also said that there is noone babwe, whatever political affiliation.

The deprivation of food handouts to the elderly, the sick, those on HIV Aids treatment and orphans in Nyazvidzi East has seen a Moslem Church situated nearby gaining a foothold in the area as it is now helping the people. People are said to be joining Moslem to get food and other aid.

Mhaka accused Ward 10 councillor, Jadison Mashavira and Zanu PF chairman for the same ward, Charles Gondongwe of distributing food along political lines. He said although the condition for giving food is that one should be above 60 years of age, people as old as 90 years were failing to get food in Nyazvidzi East while party youth, people on pensions and some businesses people are getting food allocations.

“Gondongwe and Mashavira stay in Nyazvidzi North and in that area, business people, youths, people earning pensions are getting maize from the social welfare department because these stay in a predominantly Zanu PF area,” said Mhaka
Mhaka said Gondongwe and his daughter-in-law whom he did not name were getting food allocation from the Social Welfare.

He said food distribution in Nyazvidzi was not only politicised but the process is heavily corrupt and he called for thorough investigations into the matter.

He said Nyazvidzi East elected Daniel Matizha to represent it on the Child Care

Ward Committee but Mashavira removed the name and forwarded the name of Jerry Maruvamba who lost the elections.

Mhaka said he recently took a list of six elderly people; the sick and some of them who are on HIV treatment to Mpandawana Social Welfare office for assistance because the situation is dire but the officers there dismissed him.

He said more deaths were inevitable.

Gutu North MP, Ticharwa Madondo refuted the allegations and challenged The Mirror to go on a tour of the area. Madondo also challenged The Mirror to bring medical records that show that Mbuya Mhizha died from hunger.

However, The Mirror went into Nyazvidzi East at the weekend and spoke to several elderly people, some of who can barely walk who said that they had given up on social welfare food.

Michael Rutanhira (70) who is ill, has a bulge on his back and stays alone told The Mirror that he has never been able to get assistance from the Social Welfare Department. He said he eventually joined a Moslem church based at Chinyika Business Centre some 20km away which now assists him with food and has dug a well near his hut to assist him.

“My name has been removed from the list of social welfare beneficiaries many times and I have given up. I have joined a Muslim church which gives me assistance although the supplies are not regular.

“I am disabled since I am sand blind and I cannot do hard work because of this bulge on my back. I live alone in this hut. I am always hungry and my fear is that I will die very soon. I can go for days without a meal and I look up to the Moslem Church to help me.

“I talked to Councillor Mashavira when he visited his girlfriend here recently but he did not seem to be interested. I am told it is the councillor and the chairman who decides who to give or who not to give food,” said Rutanhira.

Ratidzo Muzikanwi (61) who can barely walk because of swollen legs and stays alone in a hut told The Mirror that she has not been able to get food despite presenting her case to the councillor and Zanu PF chairman Gondongwe.

Muzikanwi was taken in a scothcart to Mandeya Business Centre several times when food was being allocated and she said her heart bled as she saw young party youths aged below 30 getting allocations. She came back empty handed and has since given up.

“No one knows the party that I support but I fail to get food. I think they suspect that everyone here is MDC T simply because there are more MDC T members,” said Muzikanwi.

She said that her relish is dried vegetables (mufushwa) and sadza and she gets these from well-wishers. 

“The borehole is broken and good neighbours bring me water here and they also give me food sometimes since I cannot walk,” said Muzikanwi.
Another woman (61) who is on second line HIV and Aids treatment whose name cannot be disclosed for ethical reasons has since been taken to Chiredzi by a relative because she was seriously ill and had no food.

The woman stayed with three orphans which compounded the situation.

The other person whose appeal for food aid was thrown out is Everesto Msopero who is said to be 78 and stays with his wife and two orphans.

Mashavira could not be reached for comment.

Gondongwe initially said he did not know that there was a person who had died of hunger. He later said that the person died in Bulawayo therefore it could not be hunger.

He confirmed allegations that he and his daughter-in-law who are staying at the same homestead are both getting food allocations.

“Come to my place and see the number of orphans that are there. There are many and this is why the two of us are getting the allocations,” said Gondongwe.

Asked why two people were getting food allocations from the same homestead, Gondongwe exploded and said The Mirror has for a long time had a vendetta against him. He said it was being fed with lies by MDC T supporters in order to destroy him.

Asked why a businessperson at the township was getting food aid, he said the businessperson had a relative at his rural home who was ill from HIV and Aids.

He said he was not aware that Fenance Mhiripiri who is a youth chairman, Enias Goriwoto (secretary) and Tinago Susupenzi were getting food allocations.

However, The Mirror established that these were just some of the three among hordes of others whose qualification for food aid is questionable.

Mhaka said he is taking up the matter so that there can be a full investigation on the way food is distributed.

Efforts to get a comment from the Department of Social Welfare were fruitless.