VILLAGERS in Plumtree’s Dombodema Ward 15 have accused transport operators they contract to deliver food relief supplies of fleecing them and profiteering.
BY SILAS NKALA
With most people in the poor rural setting facing starvation, they have had to rely on government handouts for survival, but still pay through the nose to hire transporters.
Ward 15 councillor, Francis Tshuma (Zanu PF) yesterday told Southern Eye that transport operators are ripping off villagers a situation, which was now a cause for concern.
“Transport costs for the delivery of food is a serious problem for the villagers. They are not working and in rural areas people hardly get money.
“I was approached by the villagers, who complained about the money being charged. I personally approached Social Welfare officials, who advised me that transport costs were not theirs, but were directly being paid to the transporters,” he said.
“Transporters have been charging villagers $2,50 per household, but after the complaint, the amount was reduced to $1. This figure still remains out of the reach of many poor rural people because their reliance on government handouts means they cannot buy for themselves.”
Tshuma said the last food delivery by Social Welfare to the area was on January 24 benefiting 155 households, who received a bag of maize each. A total of 235 households also shared 47 bags of rice.
He said the food situation in his area is still precarious despite the prospects of a good harvest this year.
A war veteran, Godfrey Mlalazi echoed similar sentiments, arguing transport costs had become a burden to villagers.
He claimed some traditional leaders were conniving with transporters to make money out of villagers urging the government to deploy the military to assist.
“Sometimes people accuse the government of denying them food, yet these village heads are stealing the supplies.
“The government must deploy soldiers and police to distribute food and whip the village heads into line,” he said.
At least four million Zimbabweans are in need of food aid after a devastating drought and government’s skewed land policies that have decimated a once thriving agricultural sector.