POLITICIANS have been accused of using the COVID-19 pandemic for campaign purposes, where they are doling out goodies to the needy as they appeal to the electorate.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Politicians from across the political divide have been busy in their constituencies doling out mealie-meal, a commodity which is scarce in retail shops and mostly found on the black market.
Critics have accused the politicians of hoarding the scarce commodity for distribution during the COVID-19 crisis where families are going hungry due to enforced lockdown restrictions to fight the disease.
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) warned that this would impact on the national response to COVID-19 as attention is focused on their electioneering antics.
“Election mode—we have seen that the political labels and identities are dominating COVID-19 response and hence the perception that political parties are already in an election mode. This competitive environment weakens the needed national consensus,” the ZCC said in its COVID-19 ecumenical observatory.
Food-for-votes is common practice during the electioneering period.
The ruling Zanu PF has often been cited by many human rights groups as the main culprit in the food-for-votes scam, particularly in rural areas where it commands a huge following, based on the election results that the opposition parties dismissed as rigged.
“Post-COVID-19 national recovery process — we desperately need national consensus to effectively deal with the post-COVID-19 situation. With Zimbabwe not being one of the Africa countries to receive IMF post-COVID-19 stimulus, Zimbabwe has only its own people for a solution with broad buy in,” the ZCC added.
The cash-strapped government has not offered business stimulus post lockdown. Treasury said it would avail $200 million to one million beneficiaries under a cash transfer programme. Vulnerable citizens say they are yet to receive the funds and claim Zanu PF hijacked the registration process, disenfranchising the needy.
ZCC also noted domestic violence, hunger and profiteering by business as worsening the plight of the citizenry amid the COVID-19 threat.
“Domestic violence due to hunger and the inability of families to manage disagreements, violent conflicts have escalated significantly.
“One of our pastors has indicated he has dealt with 13 cases of domestic violence in the last few days. Psychosocial and pastoral counselling has been instituted.”