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From The Zimbabwe Standard, 24 November
Leave with your food, chief tells donors
By our own Staff
Chief Makumbe, of Makumbe communal area in Buhera district, last week barred food aid from being distributed to his starving folk charging that it was coming from friends of MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai. The highly charged chief ordered donors who included Christian Care to take back their food even though hundreds of starving villagers, some of them who had walked long distances to a business centre in the district hoping to get some handouts, pleaded with him to reverse his decision. "I don't want any food from the people who are sponsoring Tsvangirai to oust our legitimate leader, Mugabe," said a visibly angry Makumbe addressing the donors. He added: "Proceed to other districts; here in my area I do not need anything from you, I will assist my people with the Zunde Ramambo." Despite protests from hungry villagers who pointed out that the donors had nothing to do with Tsvangirai, the chief remained firm, prompting the donors to leave the township with their food. Buhera is the home area for the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. Rangarirai Mhuriyadziwa, the MDC Nhedziwa Branch chairman, said the chief, who was a staunch Zanu PF supporter, sometimes forced the donors to chant the ruling party slogans. "Makumbe said he will give people maize from Zunde Ramambo, but we know there is no maize in the granaries. Iye ari kugutiswa navaMugabe isu tichidya nhoko dzezvironda. We can't starve just because Makumbe is a Zanu PF member," said Mhuriyadziwa.
Meanwhile Zanu PF on Friday rewarded chiefs across the country for the work they are doing for the party by doubling their monthly allowances and those of headmen. Chiefs will next year receive monthly allowances of $50 000, up from $18 000 while headman will be getting $20 000. Chiefs' aides have also benefited and will get $8 000 up from their current $2 000 monthly allowances. Government said the increases were made as a fulfilment of promises made by Mugabe to the traditional leaders during the run up to the March presidential elections. To date government has electrified homes of 142 chiefs and a provision has been made in the 2003 budget to have $4,5 million set aside for use by traditional leaders in each province. Apart from this, the chiefs, whose demands are increasingly getting out hand like those of war veterans, want a vehicle loan scheme similar to that of parliamentarians which could cost the nation billions of unbudgeted for dollars.