OPPOSITION parties have claimed the looming drought and subsequent food shortages will play into President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF’s hands.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Over the years, human rights groups and opposition parties have consistently accused Mugabe and his administration of abusing food aid for political expediency, taking advantage of starving villagers, as some are surviving on wild berries and tree roots.
With an El Nino-induced drought having hit major parts of Southern Africa and expected to leave 14 million people in need of food aid, with about two million of them in Zimbabwe, fears have grown of another round of politically-motivated food distribution.
Zapu spokesperson, Mjobisa Noko said the ruling party and government officials “indicated left while turning right”.
“They speak with a forked tongue. While publicly they denounce discrimination of food aid distribution, they, however, urge against giving aid to known or suspected opposition supporters. It is nothing new and the ruling party is happier with a drought that they can as well take advantage of,” he claimed.
Gwanda Residents’ Association (GRA) spokesperson, Bekezela Maduma Fuzwayo this week reportedly said villagers were told point-blank that opposition supporters would not receive food aid.
MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu claimed the drought afforded Zanu PF an opportunity to manipulate hungry and desperate citizens, particularly in the rural areas, to vote for the ruling party in exchange of food aid.
“Any MDC supporter would find it extremely painful and stressful to buy a Zanu PF card for the convenience of accessing food aid. But as you know, hunger is an equally terrible feeling. No one can survive without food,” he said.
People’s Democratic Party’s spokesperson, Jacob Mafume said government was not serious about mitigating the effects of the drought on the common people.
“Currently, they (Zanu PF) would rather fundraise a million dollars for a one-day birthday event, money that could save thousands of lives,” he said.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo yesterday reacted angrily to claims that the former liberation movement used food aid for political gain.
“I will respond to those claims and accusations in one sentence. It is absolute hogwash,” he said.
Rights watchdog, the Zimbabwe Peace Project, in a report released last week, said “targeted people are likely to starve” if political apparatchiks are allowed to discriminate people during food distribution.
In spite of the claims, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission said it was yet to receive any formal complaints of discrimination on issues of food aid.
“I have checked with our complainant’s desk and they have not received any complaints relating to that issue,” the commission’s chairperson, Elasto Mugwadi said yesterday.
“However, they have acknowledged seeing innuendos on the issue in the Press, but for us to investigate, we urge your readers, who may have been victims or who know victims, to come forward and report. We are ready to name and shame.”