The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) would like to express its disappointment with the continued revelations that government food aid programmes are being politicised along partisan lines, with some villagers being left to starve.
Passmore Nyakureba, ZimRights national chairperson
As the drought and food situation in the country promises to be a serious area of concern during the greater part of 2016, it is the government’s primary responsibility to avert the hunger situation across the country.
Children are among the many vulnerable groups that are in need of food supplements, and in the danger of being exposed to malnutrition. It is, therefore, inhuman and disgraceful for any government workers or party functionaries, who have hijacked food aid programmes, to expose needy communities to the ravages of starvation merely for political ends.
There have been reports of villagers in Mutasa barricading the Grain Marketing Board depot demonstrating and handing a petition to the district administrator, Tendai Kapenzi, over the politicisation of food aid at a time when most parts of the country are facing a menacing drought.
This is not the first incident of politicisation of food aid in Mutasa in recent months after a ZimRights team in Manicaland in November 2015 unearthed similar practices at Manica Bridge, and received similar reports from Chivi and Mt Darwin.
This also comes as there are reports in January 2016 that villagers in Matabeleland North’s Bubi district are being asked to produce ruling Zanu PF party cards to access food aid.
ZimRights urges the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to urgently look into the inhuman practice and take the necessary steps to rectify the situation as well as all stakeholders to pronounce themselves on this crucial human rights issue. Equally, ZimRights urges the government to refrain from falling into cheap politicking when the whole nation is reeling under the effects of food deficits.
While it is commendable that government is making efforts, albeit slow, to source for food supplements, the reports of discrimination in the distribution of such aid makes unnecessarily petty and tragic of the entire food relief efforts being carried out using scarce public funds.
ZimRights also urges the government to implement sustainable ways of dealing with the food shortages and drought mitigation in the face of persistent food insecurity.