Minister grilled over partisan distribution of food

PUBLIC Service minister Prisca Mupfumira was yesterday grilled by opposition MPs over continued partisan distribution of food by the Zanu PF government, accusing it of using the current food crisis to garner support.

Source: Minister grilled over partisan distribution of food – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 19, 2016

BY VENERANDA LANGA

But Mupfumira accused opposition members of peddling falsehoods, insisting that food was being distributed to all deserving people. She challenged the MPs to invite her to their constituencies to distribute food to the vulnerable.

“I want to make it clear that the MP (Simon Chidhakwa — MDC-T, Zengeza West) has brought to this House a false accusation because we (her ministry) are responsible for the welfare of all Zimbabweans regardless of political affiliation,” she said.

“I never ever said food should be given along political lines, and these are mischievous reports because food is available to everyone.”

Mupfumira said her ministry had extended the food mitigation registration programme and urged MPs to participate to ensure their constituencies got food hand-outs.

Mutasa Central MP, Trevor Saruwaka (MDC-T) then challenged Mupfumira to explain why a report and letter from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) stated that there was partisan food distribution.

“I am surprised by that letter, which is supposed to be written to me confidentially by ZHRC is being referred to by MPs. The letter singled out six isolated incidents — two in Mazowe, two in Bikita and two in Buhera — out of 600 000 households, we deal with every day.

“We sat down with ZHRC, because initially, we were not involved, we said we would investigate the issue and if there was anybody found on the wrong side of the law, they would be disciplined,” Mupfumira said.

Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Thokozani Khupe (MDC-T) asked Mupfumira to explain how government would cater for the gap in figures of food-vulnerable people.

“We need to update the register. Currently, we have adequate food stocks of about 320 000 tonnes of maize, and have received 19 000 tonnes of rice, which is going to be integrated into the food assistance programme,” Mupfumira said.

Magwegwe MP, Anele Ndebele (MDC-T) urged Mupfumira to issue a ministerial statement about food assistance in the House, as the issue was an emotive human rights matter, with the international community watching Zimbabwe.

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