BY BRENNA MATENDERE
MDC Midlands province has raised the red flag over alleged politicisation of food aid in parts of Gokwe district where villagers are facing drought-induced hunger.
Government, in conjunction with some non-governmental organisations, are giving out food handouts in Kabuyuni, Mapfungautsi, Sesame, Sengwa and Kana, among others, which were hardest-hit by drought.
Selected households are being given food items including maize, cooking oil and porridge.
MDC Midlands provincial deputy spokesperson, Searchmore Muringani, told Southern Eye on Monday that the opposition party’s leadership in Gokwe had raised a distress call over partisan distribution of the food aid.
He said officials from the Gokwe District Administrator’s office, community leaders like councillors, headmen and village heads were allegedly demanding Zanu PF membership cards for one be shortlisted as eligible to receive the food handouts.
“Opposition members, especially from the MDC led by president Nelson Chamisa, are being denied access to food aid in Gokwe. For example, ward 6 of Sayi 2 councillor Amon Karikoga in Gokwe Sengwa is demanding Zanu PF membership cards for those that want to be considered as eligible for the food aid scheme. We also have headmen and village heads who are doing the same in the remote parts of Gokwe,” Muringani said.
Muringani said some of the MDC officials have lodged complaints at the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare ministry but no action has been taken to stop the unfair practice.
“Former MDC councillor in Gokwe, Nokhutula Ncube is one of our officials who put forward a formal complaint around June this year. She reported the issue to the Gokwe social welfare officer known as Chihwehwete. She actually revealed names of the culprits such as Gokwe district Zanu PF leader known as Sachingoma and some councillors involved. However, no action was taken to stop the discriminatory practise,” said the MDC spokesperson.
Contacted for comment, Gokwe South district admistrator, Stewart Gwatirinda, said the food distribution programme was happening transparently and no one was being left out.
“The criteria that we are using is targeting food-insecure households. Those that are really in a dire situation in terms of food insecurity are the ones who are benefiting. We do not look at party affiliations or to say this one is Zanu PF or MDC.
Here in Gokwe there are people who just like back-biting. In fact, any insinuation to the fact that in Gokwe food aid is being distributed on party lines will be a creation of the media,” he said.
Zanu PF spokesperson for Midlands, Cornelia Mupereri could not be reached for comment.National party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said the ruling party will investigate the reports.
“Of course if there are such reports against our members we will investigate the issues. However, the position of the party is that we do not interfere in food aid programmes. The food must be distributed in a manner that is not partisan at all because all those that deserve the aid must benefit. At this moment I am yet to get any reports from Gokwe concerning allegations that our members are interfering,” he said.
He also challenged the MDC to report the cases to the police and any other relevant authorities in order for the culprits to brought to book.