Don’t politicise COVID-19 aid, ZimRights tells Zanu PF

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THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has warned Zanu PF against politicisation of COVID-19 aid meant for vulnerable households facing hunger during the 21-day lockdown claiming deserving families have been left out of the scheme.

By Nyasha Chingono

In a report, ZimRights accused Zanu PF of partisan distributions of aid. The human rights lobby group alleged that the party’s supporters were the sole beneficiaries of a $200 million cushion availed by government to assist hungry families.

“Following this, ZimRights members reported that during the second week of the lockdown, there were incidents of partisan distribution of aid, listing down of names of supporters of the ruling Zanu PF party for aid,” the report read.

“There were reports of partisan aid distribution and selective listing of beneficiaries of the government funds to cushion those in the informal sector.” During the first week of the lockdown, government announced that it would avail a monthly grant of $200 million to a million vulnerable households.

Government further announced a World Bank-funded package to assist informal traders whose work has been affected by the lockdown.

This comes after the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) raised alarm over Zimbabwe’s severe hunger status.

The UN agency recently reported that hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans had slipped into the severely-hungry category with over 7,7 million people already in need of food aid.

Nearly 5,5 million rural Zimbabweans and 2,2 million urbanites will be food insecure this year.

In previous years, mainly the rural population would require food aid, but lately millions of urban dwellers are in need of food aid.

The novel coronavirus which has affected 23 people, including three deaths has not made the food situation any better as a result of the lockdown.

Zimbabweans, who rely on the informal sector to put food on the table, have expressed hunger fears after President Emmerson Mnangagwa proclaimed a 21-day lockdown, which will likely be extended due to the growing infection rate.

The ZimRights report also raised concern on the growing scarcity of potable water which has made regular washing of hands an impossible routine.

“Despite a High Court ruling that government was supposed to provide safe water to Harare residents, water shortages across the country continued into the second week of the lockdown,” said ZimRights.

According to the World Health Organisation, regular washing of hands with soap kills gems that could fuel the spread of the novel virus.

Many suburbs around Harare continue to face acute water shortages, making the lockdown unbearable.

COVID-19 has infected over two million people and killed more than 135 000 people globally.

The Zimbabwean government has been criticised for failure to provide enough testing kits during the lockdown which elapses on Monday next week.

ZimRights also reported that doctors, lawyers and media practitioners resorted to litigation to force government to act on human rights concerns raised during the lockdown.

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