MPs, govt in war over Chinese donation

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A ROW has erupted between some MPs and government’s department of labour over the distribution of rice reportedly solicited from China.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

Some MPs from mainly the opposition MDC-T said they had written letters to Public Service, Labour and Social Services minister Prisca Mupfumira, appealing to have an equal share of the allocation.

But it seems it is not only opposition MPs who have been frozen out as Zanu PF MPs deemed to be loyal to former Vice-President Joice Mujuru are also reportedly to have been overlooked or given lesser allocations than others.

In one of the letters written by disgruntled MDC-T legislator for Mutasa Central Trevor Saruwaka to Mupfumira, the legislator claimed if given the same allocation as others, that would be a major relief to the gripping hunger in his constituency.

“I am writing to kindly request for your esteemed office to allocate Mutasa Central Constituency with rice quantity to the satisfaction of your office. This will go a long way in alleviating the biting hunger being experienced as a result of crop failure,” the letter dated May 21 read.

In an interview yesterday, Saruwaka said he gathered information that some Zanu PF aspiring candidates for 2018 harmonised elections had been given some undisclosed quantity.

“Why are they by-passing an elected MP? I believe this is a government programme and it should not be politicised. Every MP should benefit, so there is no need to politicise food distribution,” Saruwaka said.

Mupfumira was not available for comment over the issue.

Affected legislators from Zanu PF, mostly those perceived to be aligned to Mujuru and speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were keenly following events before raising formal complaints.

“I heard someone else was given ahead of me and I am sure that was done to make that person campaign using that rice. I am still checking with the minister (Mupfumira), but if that is what happened, then I will lodge a formal complaint,” the legislator said.

However, Zanu PF MPs argued the allocation should only be for Zanu PF legislators alone since the donation was made through negotiations made by the party’s leaders.

“This is like a presidential input scheme. It’s the initiative of Zanu PF and I cannot see the reason why those from other parties can claim too. They have their sponsors as well, they should not cry foul,” the MP said.

“I was given 30 tonnes which is being given to others, but I provided my own transport. It’s a win-win situation in that I have something to give to people while the government saves on transportation”.

In March, Zimbabwe reportedly received some 5 400 tonnes of rice worth more than $8 million from China to help alleviate food shortages in the country.