BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
POLITICISATION of subsided mealie-meal and food aid by ruling Zanu PF party officials during the COVID-19-induced lockdowns compounded hunger among vulnerable communities in most parts of the country, a Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) report has revealed.
ZPP alleged that the ruling Zanu PF party was denying food handouts to opposition party supporters.
In its April 2021 report released yesterday, ZPP claimed that only Zanu PF card-carrying members received food aid during the lockdown period.
“Some Zanu PF leaders purchased all the subsidized mealie-meal and went on to sell it to Zanu PF members only, thus depriving thousands of people desperately needing the staple food, but did not have Zanu PF membership cards,” the report read.
“The partisan distribution of government food aid is a recurring problem in most rural areas which have been extensively reported on by various civil society organisations. It has left thousands of people food insecure when they desperately need food assistance during the difficult times of COVID-19,” the ZPP said.
Zanu PF national spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo could not immediately comment on the allegations as he said he was in a meeting.
But the ruling party has in the past denied reports of politicising food aid.
The ZPP added that assessments by the World Food Programme, the Southern African Development Community and the Zimbabwe Vulnerable Assessment Committee confirmed that over eight million people, which is about 60% of the population faced hunger, starvation, and food insecurity.
“A study conducted by ZimStat in June 2020 showed that about 84% of people in the rural areas were unable to have a balanced diet due to lack of money to buy nutritious foods.”
The human rights watchdog stated that government had failed to provide adequate assistance to the vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic due to lack of funds.
“The broken and dysfunctional social service delivery system in the country cannot withstand the impacts of the pandemic due to several years of underfunding and neglect by government. Nonetheless, there is an opportunity to redress the ongoing crisis by ensuring that socio-economic rights are placed at the centre of the COVID-19 response and recovery plans.”
ZPP urged government to urgently release funds for disbursement to vulnerable and marginalised people.