BULAWAYO residents and villagers in parts of Matabeleland South, who have not benefitted from the subsidised roller meal are facing starvation.
BY SILAS NKALA
In urban areas, the government, working with Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) launched a door-to-door mealie-meal delivery programme to curb crowding at retail outlets during the lockdown.
However, villagers in Matobo, Umzingwane, Bulilima, Bubi and Nkayi pleaded with millers to deliver roller meal to outlying areas.
“This past week they started delivering the mealie-meal to our homes in Njube C. They were allowing us to buy only 2X10kg,” a Njube C resident, who requested anonymity, said.
However, in Njube E, some residents complained that the mealie-meal was sold to a few houses before moving to Entumbane.
“Here in Njube E, they just visited a few households and said they were done with Njube before moving to Entumbane.
We have not managed to buy the mealie-meal and we wonder when they will come back,” a resident, who refused to be named, said.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association chairperson Ambrose Sibindi said door-to-door delivery was problematic.
“Some might not have money to buy mealie-meal at the time the delivery comes and in such circumstances it’s not clear how such people could be assisted in the near future,” Sibindi said.
“For now, they have covered Njube and Entumbane, but some residents are claiming that they never saw those people who were delivering mealie-meal. The issue of accountability is highly compromised. There is a report that yesterday (May 3), a delivery vehicle was spotted selling mealie-meal to anyone along the streets.”
However, Bulawayo Metropolitan Affairs minister Judith Ncube said there were two teams serving Njube and Entumbane.
“There are two teams, one serving Entumbane and the other serving Njube. Both teams are led by ward co-ordinators and we are making sure that people get food. As a government, our aim is for all the people to get food and I think those who are complaining just do not know how the programme is being conducted and if they have complaints they must first find out from us what is happening before making noise,” she said.
Ncube appealed to well-wishers to come on board to assist the government in feeding vulnerable people during the lockdown.
Civic organisation, Habakkuk Trust, in a report released yesterday, said community members in rural Matabeleland South were appealing to government to ensure subsidised roller meal deliveries reach their communities.
According to the report, Habakkuk Trust’s community advocacy action teams from various parts of Matabeleland established that local shops had not received deliveries of subsidised roller meal, resulting in villagers buying the staple food at exorbitant prices.
“In most parts of Matobo, Bulilima, Mangwe and Gwanda, a 10kg bag of mealie-meal is R100, while prices in local currency range from $180 to $300 depending on shops and mealie-meal brands. However, the mobile money price is quite high as most retailers prefer cash or foreign currency,” the trust said.
“In Matobo ward 19, there is reportedly one retail store that normally receives subsidised mealie-meal, but most villagers only get the information after the mealie-meal has been sold out. Villagers in Matobo, Umzingwane, Bulilima, Bubi, Nkayi have called on the government to enable them access to subsidised mealie-meal.”
The trust also indicated that its Gwanda ward 1 action team member revealed that food aid was not reaching all vulnerable community members as it was not enough.
“Most rural communities have been plunged into vulnerability as a result of climate change-induced drought which saw little harvests,” the trust said.
Habakkuk Trust urged the government and GMAZ to ensure that subsidised mealie-meal reached vulnerable communities.
Matabeleland South provincial development co-ordinator Sithandiwe Ncube said there wasn’t enough roller meal to reach everyone.
“The subsidised mealie-meal goes to various places in the province, but it is not enough to cover everyone. There are some who may access it in their own way, but if it is the subsidised mealie-meal we require them to sell it at a stipulated price,” Ncube said.
“If a shop abuses the facility, there are measures that are taken and those delivering the product are advised not to supply that shop with the mealie-meal. We, however, have no control over other mealie-meal products which are not subsidised, people are selling them at their own prices.”