Partisan food distribution alarms WFP

Source: Partisan food distribution alarms WFP | The Financial Gazette October 27, 2016

THE World Food Programme (WFP) has received more than 1 000 complaints on its newly set up hotline with complaints raised over the selection of beneficiaries, issues related to registration, the quantity of the food basket and the exclusion of vulnerable households or wrong inclusion of certain households.

An official at WFP, Joao Manja, the head of the vulnerability assessment analysis unit, said on Monday that the complaints were received over a hotline set-up by the agency to report different complaints which recipients had.
“I want to mention the hotline: We just started the hotline this year, from April to now, we have already received more than 1 000 calls and people raise all kinds of issues from the selection of beneficiaries, issues related to registration, from the quantity of the food basket, even issues related to exclusion of vulnerable households or wrong inclusion of certain household,” said Manja.
“…At least 62 percent of our callers have been females so far. We are guided by humanitarian principles — humanity neutrality, and gender equality. These are the torches that illuminate WFP’s programmes and we cannot move away from that; we are really strict about these principles. Credibility and transparency of our systems is an issue,” Manja added.
At a rally for the hotly contested Norton seat, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Prisca Mupfumira indicated that people who do not vote for ZANU-PF would be left to starve.
Like other countries in the southern African region, Zimbabwe is reeling under the devastating effects of an El-Nino induced drought that has triggered widespread hunger.
This humanitarian crisis has been exploited mainly by the ruling party which is cashing in on the tragedy by providing food aid according to party lines.
The partisan distribution of food aid in the country has been further fuelled by the election mood that has gripped the nation at large, albeit the plebiscite still 18 months or so away.
Rashweat Mukundu, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said the practice reflected the politicisation of almost every aspect of life in the country.
“The government of the day is, however, bound by the Constitution to treat every citizen fairly and also that food aid is not sourced using political party money, but donor and taxpayer’s money. Partisan distribution of food is the vilest of political strategies,” he said.
The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) said the agency took seriously the concerns regarding partisan food aid distribution.
“Although we might not be funding some of the programmes, they affect all of us…Our focus is to make sure the resources we have are able to reach the most vulnerable and I think we need the entire system to be transparent,” said the DFID’s humanitarian advisor to Zimbabwe, Mira Gratier.
“We welcome the leadership of government in ensuring this not just for food aid, but all the different sectors…,” Gratier said.
The Movement for Democratic Change’s vice president, Thokozani Khuphe, recently said ZANU-PF must refrain from politicising its distribution because it is being sourced by donor agencies.