via ‘Grace Mugabe food hand-outs looted’ – DailyNews Live Bridget Mananavire • 21 December 2015
HARARE – First Lady Grace Mugabe’s food hand-outs are being looted by a select few while the rest are left to fight, a report by the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has claimed.
In its monthly peace monitoring report, ZPP revealed that police assaulted and set dogs on villagers during the distribution of “goodies” donated in Murewa Mashonaland East province at the influential First Lady’s rally.
In the report, ZPP says poverty levels in the country, where the majority are living on less than a dollar a day, are pushing many to look forward to handouts.
“In cases, this past month, where people attended First Lady Grace Mugabe’s rallies where she brought substantial tonnage of food stuffs and inputs, among other ‘give-aways’, those who hoped to get a share of these goodies found that they had to contend with jostling and shoving in long queues as well as facing heavy-handed police control, which often gave way to police brutality as the police attempted to maintain order during the stampedes for the hand-outs,” reads the ZPP November report.
With a bulk of the population unemployed and the devastating effects of erratic rains already being felt many, particularly in rural areas are desperate for a meal.
At the same time, the hungry population is also being told not to accept any other hand-outs from Non-Governmental Organisations by an otherwise broke government.
The reports states that in Mashonaland East province for instance, some of the hand-outs disappeared and never reached the intended beneficiaries.
“Zanu-PF youths were assaulted and had dogs set on them when they protested on the ‘disappearance’ of food items brought during the First Lady’s rally. The items were only distributed when political leaders had left.
“The people were told that the rest (of the foodstuff) would be taken to the police station to be distributed the following day. Most people slept outside the police station waiting for fertilizer. The following day some people went to the police station and could not find the items there,” the peace lobby group claimed.
Apart from that, the villagers who were supposed to get the food for free, as ‘amai Grace’ said were being forced to pay $3 to get a Zanu Pf membership card which would give them access to the First Lady’s goodies.
The villagers were given the option of either going hungry or joining Zanu PF.
“Such an insensitive squeeze on vulnerable people in order to coerce them into toeing the Zanu PF line of supporting no other party but the ruling one, has seen many languish in hunger with the express dilemma being that if you want to access government or First Lady assistance you must first buy a ruling party membership card. Going at US$3 each, membership to the ruling party is exorbitant to most rural folk, a majority of whom live on less than a dollar a day,” the report read.