Villagers fear food politicisation 

Source: Villagers fear food politicisation –Newsday Zimbabwe

In the midst of this starvation, villagers who spoke to NewsDay Weekender are alleging political victimisation and corruption in the food distribution matrix.

IN Murambinda, some 200 kilometres from Harare where President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government hosted lavish independence celebrations last month, many are already facing starvation as the effects of the El Niño-nduced drought set in.

In the midst of this starvation, villagers who spoke to NewsDay Weekender are alleging political victimisation and corruption in the food distribution matrix.

They claim that Zanu PF leaders in their areas, including war veterans, were involved in the corruption and political victimisation.

Tonderayi Nyaungwe, who was denied a 10 kg of maize meal, just outside the Independence Day celebrations venue, because of his alleged links to the opposition, spoke of a grim season for opposition supporters.

“Food is a weapon of choice in rural Zimbabwe, here in Murambinda some of us have been blacklisted and if well-wishers don’t come to our aid, we will surely perish this time around because all of our fields have no harvest in this part of the country,” Nyaungwe said.

In 2017, a report by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission alleged that food aid was being used as a political weapon and a vote buying strategy. The report cited Zanu PF activists as the main culprits.

Elderly Sekuru Johns, a supporter of the ruling Zanu PF, said corruption is the biggest threat to their access to food.

“Food is being distributed with no political connotations, but it’s not getting to us because someone with the power to distribute it is stealing and others selling or giving to friends and family, while we starve,” he said, refusing to name the culprits fearing victimisation

“This is done mostly by councillors and some war veterans who have made themselves food distributors.”

War veterans, however, distanced themselves from the allegations of corruption and stealing food from the poor, telling NewsDay Weekender that they are instead peace builders, and always on the lookout for those who want to loot.

“We operate in a dignified manner. Food is distributed along clear channels, from province, to district, to village level and along the way as war veterans we maintain order and discipline. We want peace during this time of crisis and we will never loot food, those saying that are lying,” Susan Chitando, a war veteran from Murambinda, said.

Zimbabwe faces one of its worst droughts in years with the government estimating the country will need over US$2 billion worth of food imports to feed hungry citizens.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has on numerous occasions promised that his government will not let anyone go without food during this crisis and everybody will be fed.

In all this crisis, Mnangagwa, under the cover of national inclusion, chose to host lavish celebrations in Buhera an outback mired in abject poverty.

At the celebrations, the villagers were fed two spicy chicken pieces and French fries — an alien meal to many hungry villagers.

To top it all off, they were given fizzy drinks and a 10 kg pack of refined roller meal, not enough to last a week for many families.

In return they had to chant ruling party slogans, sing along to tsepete tsepete, Zanu PF’s signature campaign song.