MDC-T and MDC officials have accused Zanu PF of dangling government-funded food handouts to starving villagers in Matabeleland North province in a bid to gain political mileage.
The parties made the remarks yesterday after Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo repeatedly kept reminding villagers that the grain loan scheme was the brainchild of Zanu PF leader President Robert Mugabe during the minister’s address at the installation of Chiefs Mabhikwa, Tategulu and Mathuphula in Matabeleland North over the weekend.
On all the three occasions, Chombo said the government, “led by President Robert Mugabe”, had launched the expanded grain loan scheme to cushion villagers whose crops did not do well in the last agricultural season.
“The scheme will allow each family to get a 50-kilogramme bag of maize from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) each month until the next rainy season when you get a good harvest,” said Chombo on Saturday.
“But if you fail to get good harvests next year, you will continue borrowing the maize from GMB.
“If you do not perform well in the succeeding season, you will again be allowed to come and borrow the maize until a time when you manage to harvest.
“President Mugabe said no one should starve and I am telling you this because you should not be afraid to come and take the maize because you are not certain how the next rainy season will be like.”
But other parties have dismissed Chombo’s statements as politicking ahead of possible elections likely to be held in the next 12 months.
MDC-T deputy spokesperson Thabita Khumalo accused Chombo of making it seem as if the maize was coming from Mugabe, “yet it comes from the government”.
“It is the government and not Mugabe and they are lying to the people to get votes,” she said.
“Nothing is for free in this world and such statements are calculated at enticing people to vote for Zanu PF in the next elections.
“We, however, urge people to be careful of Zanu PF trickery.”
MDC Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Edwin Ndlovu said the use of food to win votes was a common tool used by Zanu PF.
“People of Zimbabwe all deserve food and it is the duty of the government of the day to provide its people with food,” he said.
“However, in this case, what Chombo is saying is not genuine.Zanu PF is just politicking in the hope of gaining votes.
“The people will go and not get any maize.”