By Judith Sibanda
Victoria Falls, June 18, 2016 – A top official with the Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) has vowed the Joice Mujuru led party would punish Zanu PF officials deliberately denying food aid to starving villagers in the area if it got into power in 2018.
Zanu PF has come under fire for persistently using food handouts sourced from outside as bait for votes.
But Max Mnkandla told the party’s structures in Victoria Falls on Wednesday they were considering various measures to try and stop food discrimination, which has gone on for years.
“Our people are starving,” he said. “Our party will make sure that all deserving people get food aid regardless of political affiliation.
“Those in leadership in the different villagers must not discriminate people along party lines because their actions are causing the deaths of innocent people due to hunger.”
Mnkandla said ZimPF would also alert donors, including the United Nations, that their handouts were being abused by Zanu PF, which wanted to gain an unfair advantage in the battle for votes ahead of the 2018 polls.
“If these unfair practices don’t stop we will soon be forced to block these food donations until there is fairness,” he charged.
Mnkandla, a war veteran, said food handouts, which were in the years denied on MDC-T supporters, were also now being denied to ZimPF supporters.
He said if the situation persisted, they would be forced to take the law into their own hands and disrupt government’s drought relief programmes.
“Our people in rural areas are suffering from Zanu PF discrimination,” he told the meeting.
“We have witnessed people being denied food aid in Ntabazinduna, Mbembesi and Jibajiba in Lupane last week.
“A number of people were denied food aid on the basis that they are opposition supporters.”
Mnkandla said the government officials did not have a right to deny people food aid on the basis of their political affiliation.
Zanu PF has repeatedly denied accusations that it manipulates government drought relief programmes to serve its political interests.
Meanwhile, Mnkandla said ZimPF was building structures that would be used to mobilise supporters for the party ahead of the 2018 elections.
Mujuru announced the formation of ZimPF in February, a year after she was expelled from Zanu PF and government for allegedly plotting to unseat President Robert Mugabe.
Zimbabwe’s first female vice-president denies charges she was plotting a coup against her mentor but has vowed never to return to Zanu PF saying the party had deviated from its liberation war objectives.
ZimPF has been setting up structures ahead of the party’s official launch at the end of July.
“We will cover every area with our campaign teams and it is these structures that we are setting up that will do the work as we go to the elections,” Mnkandla said. “The campaign teams will embark on door-to-door campaigns.
“There will also be special teams that will ensure that our people are registered to vote come elections.”
Mandla Moyo, the ZimPF chairperson for Hwange West, said the party’s growth was being hampered by lack of resources to penetrate rural areas.
The meeting also discussed Mujuru’s inaugural rally set for Saturday in Bulawayo where members donated money for transport and other logistics.