500 Seke villagers face hunger

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Over 5 000 people in ward 19, Seke North (Chitungwiza) are in need of urgent food aid to mitigate hunger during the COVID-19 induced 21-day lockdown, NewsDay has learnt.

BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO

Ward 19 councillor and deputy mayor Musa Makweza told NewsDay on the sidelines of an exercise to document the vulnerable people that took place at his residence that over 5 000 were in dire need of either food or financial aid.

“As of yesterday (Saturday) 4 500 people were shortlisted. From my assessment over 5 000 need aid in form of either funds to lessen hunger during lockdown. There is no food in the ward. If not mistaken, the ward has 9 000 families, so we believe more vulnerable people will come forward,” he said.

“This exercise follows communication by acting town clerk that we should write names of the vulnerable people who are set to benefit from government. Almost three quarters of Zimbabweans do not go to work, so we have also identified them as vulnerable amongst orphans, people living with disability and the elderly. We are not yet sure of the form of benefits, but were simply asked to submit names for consideration.”

The Chitungwiza deputy mayor said the programme could have been done before commencement of the lockdown.

“Government should have done this before announcing the lockdown because for people to respond to the stay home call, they should be having needs such as food at home. Those leaving their houses are still looking for means to earn a living under this period,” he said.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Old People’s Association co-ordinator Paddington Chaparadza alleged politicisation of the shortlisting process, arguing that most elderly people were left out because they were labelled as pro-Zanu PF.

“Programmes are introduced in a good way, but the implementation is not good. President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) spoke well about this, but those driving it are now politicising it. In this country, people in positions of authority favour those who support them. Seven people are written down at a single house and the elderly are few. There is no transparency,” he said.

A potential beneficiary (name withheld) said the registration should not have been carried out at the deputy mayor’s house.

“He has a high position in his party, there are rallies and meetings done at his house. Majority of the people are not going there because they are thinking that it’s an MDC Alliance event or rally. Those who don’t belong to his party will be afraid to come. He should have chosen a neutral venue. Otherwise those that I saw writing names and the security do not belong to his party,” the resident said.

However, Makweza said: “I am happy that government has taken this scheme to the people without politicising it. You can’t identify people in a queue with their political parties. I did not choose people to write but I simply asked those who were willing to come forward. If I had chosen a person from a particular party there was going to be favouritism. We just sent a message that the vulnerable should come and get shortlisted. The elderly and pregnant women have their own queue for their convenience.”

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima recently announced a $200 once-off cushion for the needy during lockdown which is likely to benefit one million people.