ZANU PF has told its members of Parliament to stay away from food aid distribution programmes after it emerged that some party officials were diverting the grain for personal gain, leaving deserving beneficiaries hungry.

The government has kick-started the food aid distribution programme in response to the El Nino drought that has left millions of Zimbabweans facing hunger.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared the drought a national disaster, and appealed for US$3 billion in food aid.

A latest report by the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa exposed how the food aid distribution programme had been hijacked by Zanu PF officials.

The report dated June 12 titled: Food Aid Distribution Corruption Alert focusing on Zhombe, Midlands said whistle-blowers uncovered a network of corruption and theft of grain.

“This alleged misconduct, which purportedly involves the unlawful appropriation and misappropriation of precious food supplies intended for those affected by the drought, has stoked public outrage, with many questioning the integrity and accountability of those entrusted with distributing aid to vulnerable communities,” reads the report.

“Lurking beneath the façade of a seemingly benign cell restructuring exercise, it has been alleged that the ruling Zanu PF party is covertly engaging in intimidation tactics, with those who fail to attend party meetings allegedly being subjected to food aid denial or rationing.”

ACT SA condemned the weaponisation of food aid.

Zanu PF chief whip in Parliament, Pupurai Togarepi, warned party MPs to stay away from food aid distribution programmes.

Togarepi said distribution of food should be left to established government structures.

“What an MP can do is to organise people to  go to where the distribution is going to happen and end there,” he said.

“There are government structures experienced to do that." 

He said MPs have the responsibility to ensure that their constituents have access to essential resources, such as food aid while not being directly involved in such activities.

“Grain distributions for the most disadvantaged people are handled by chiefs,” he said.

“Parliamentarians should not be directly involved, but must  make sure that their people have food.’

Estimates by government and humanitarian agencies say at least six million Zimbabweans may need food aid until the next harvest season.

The United Nations in May made a flash appeal to raise a further US$429,3 million in humanitarian assistance to feed at least 3,1 million Zimbabweans.