BY KENNETH NYANGANI
THE United Nations and the European Union yesterday said they had put in place mechanisms to prevent any further looting and politicisation of aid meant for the victims of Cyclone Idai.
“We take seriously the reports that the food is being distributed politically. The government of Zimbabwe must review that, this must not happen. The government of Zimbabwe must respect the needs of the people,” the European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen, said at a meeting with Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Ellen Gwaradzimba in Mutare yesterday.
“The distribution of the food must not be distorted in any way and any further violations are destroying the goodwill.”
Gwaradzimba met with Olkkonen and the United Nations ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bishow Parajuli, who raised concerns over bureaucracy in the distribution of food to Cyclone Idai victims.
“We are working on a system that minimises bureaucracy and maximises direct benefit to the affected people. You (Gwaradzimba) are fully aware of places where the food was distributed to who, why and how,” Parajuli said.
“We need to maintain openness in the system on these humanitarian issues and we should continue working together. We have seen that the victims need food and we jumped in. For the way forward, in order to see the effective distribution of the food, we are going to meet the people affected directly and make co-ordinated efforts to assist them.”
“We will have UN colleagues and civil society groups stationed here (Command Centre) for a period of time and work on different modalities and mediums to see effective and fair distribution of the food,” he added.
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The remarks by the two diplomats follow a NewsDay exposé this week that Zanu PF officials were looting aid meant for the cyclone victims from Silver Stream distribution centre in Chimanimani for distribution to party members in their wards, including those who were not affected by the floods.
Zanu PF Manicaland chairman Mike Madiro denied the allegations, saying the aid distribution programme had been politicised.
“Remember, there has been a disaster in Chipinge and Chimanimani, and MPs from all over the country have been using those cars branded with Zanu PF logo assessing and helping the situation,” he said.
“I am not even aware that there are donations that were being looted. Those are just allegations. People must come with evidence; the V11 forms to prove that the donations have been stolen.”
He accused some Zanu PF officials of using the relief food to fan intra-party fights, with Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa also being accused of looting foodstuffs meant for cyclone victims.
“What is happening is not good. People are using the relief food to trade accusations. Do you think a person like Minister Mutsvangwa will do that? And this is coming from fellow Zanu PF members,” he said.
Mutsvangwa told NewsDay last night that she had actually sourced the items which were offloaded at her Mutare home on Friday using her personal resources. “That’s unfair. I have donated those goods. I sourced those goods using my own money,” she said.