By Mark Mhukayesango
Lalapanzi, February 21, 2016 – DESPITE strong denials by the current Zanu PF led government it was not responsible for partisan food distribution among poor rural communities, the situation obtaining in Lalapanzi area speaks to the contrary.
Food aid, often sourced through NGOs and government initiatives, has often been parcelled out to Zanu PF supporters as a means to keep their loyalty while known opposition sympathisers have been denied as punishment for contrary political choices.
Only last week, at Hilville primary school, Zanu PF activists are said to have diverted food aid from Plant International for distribution amongst ruling party supporters.
The place is located deep in Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s former Chirumanzu-Zibagwe constituency.
Ironically, Mnangagwa early this month denied Zanu PF was in the habit of parcelling out food along partisan lines.
Last week’s incident happened even though the benefactors of the community have emphasised that the grain was for all the villagers, regardless of political affiliation.
In Ward 22, one Zanu PF councillor, Tapera Dzitira has been accused of sidelining opposition supporters from the benevolent scheme.
Gibson Masvanhise, the MDC-T’s Zibagwe district chairperson confirmed that Zanu PF has been playing politics of the stomach.
“The Plan’s food aid is being distributed at Hilville secondary school every month end since December,” Masvanhise told RadioVOP.
“People get maize and some money to buy other things like beans, cereals, cooking oil among others.
“But all MDC-T supporters have been excluded on the list of those who benefit. Many of them are in dire need of assistance because there is painful hunger in the district. It’s so disturbing.”
However, Dzitira was quick to deny the accusations, saying the donated maize being referred to was not enough to distribute to all villagers.
“I have over 200 families in my ward and the maize was not enough for everyone,” he said.
“These allegations are fabricated and are meant to tarnish the image of Zanu PF.
“Hunger is real and I don’t see the reason why we should discriminate along party lines.”
Just like most parts of the country, Lalapanzi is in the throes of a dire food crisis caused by the persistent dry spell amid concerns it could stretch into yet another season.
Desperate villagers have been trading their cattle for grain in a bid to keep body and soul together.
Ishmael Jeko, losing MDC-T candidate in the 2013 elections in the area, described the situation as sad.
“I visited the constituency over the weekend to follow up on chicken projects that I initiated there and got shocked by Zanu PF’s lack of moral conscience to deny people food when they are on the verge of starvation,” he said.
“It’s not surprising that Zanu PF structures are interfering with donor-driven food aid programmes since it is their well documented partisan approach to things and governance.”
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai few weeks ago threatened if his followers continued to be denied food aid, he will ask them to invade GMB depots to demand for the necessity.
Political commentator Canius Nyamayaro said humanitarian organisations should confront Zanu PF to force accountability on the food aid.
“We call upon the donors involved to ensure that they micro-supervise the identification of beneficiaries to ensure that those who are actually in need are duly targeted in the food assistance programme,” said Nyamayaro.
Speaking in Gweru recently, PDP Secretary General, Gorden Moyo said the mandate of his party’s shadow councillors was to monitor injustice in wards following reports Zanu PF was hijacking food aid.
“We know that Zanu PF is giving its own supporters food aid so our watchdogs are the shadow councillors who will raise such issues when they are brought to light,” Moyo said.