World & Community

Rights group slams Zim’s partisan food distribution

By Staff Writer

HUMAN rights watchdog, Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has noted the politicisation of food aid in the country following a devastating El Nino-induced drought.

Despite repeated assurances by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that no Zimbabwean will die of hunger, ruling party functionaries coordinating transportation and distribution of food aid, particularly in rural areas, are playing the political card and denying opposition supporters their allocations.

In its latest human rights violations update for May 2024, ZPP says villagers known or perceived to belong to the opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) were denied drought relief rations by ruling Zanu PF officials and activists superintending over the programmes.

“There were continued trends of partisan distribution of food aid and agricultural inputs, assault, harassment and intimidation, and violations of the right to equality and non-discrimination.

“In May, the Zimbabwe Peace Project documented violations of the right to sufficient food as enshrined in Section 77 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“However, incidences documented during the month show a continued trend of maladministration of food aid and agricultural inputs.

“Victims have been discriminated against and denied food either during the exercises of beneficiary selection or denied aid even after they have been shortlisted to receive the allocated rations,” reads the ZPP report.

In Chiwundura constituency, Gweru district, Midlands province, 47 beneficiaries from Wards 13 and 14 were deprived of food aid. The government-sponsored food aid lot was intended to benefit 30 beneficiaries per ward in wards 13, 14 and 15.

“While all 30 beneficiaries from Ward 15 received their allocated rations, only 13 beneficiaries from Ward 13 and 14 received their rations. 47 beneficiaries were denied their right to food because they were not members of the ruling party.

“The distribution was coordinated by Moyoza, a Zanu PF councillor, who was assisted by the ruling party ward committees. Beneficiaries were allocated sorghum or maize meal, each person receiving either 25kgs sorghum or 10kgs  mealie meal.

“The deprivation in Wards 13 and 14 was supposedly because the ward councillors were members of the CCC. Zanu PF Councillor Moyoza was recorded saying members of the opposition parties must ‘repent and join the ruling party’ for them to be given food.”

ZPP also reported that in Chimanimani West, Headman David Mudyanga instructed opposition CCC supporters not to attend government aid distribution programmes citing food shortages as an excuse.

“Mudyanga declared that there was no food to cater for opposition supporters during this time of hunger. He made the remarks during a village meeting convened at Rufaro growth point in Chimanimani West, Ward 8.”

The report highlighted desperate situations in which villagers were forced to contribute money towards transporting the food.

“In some instances, such as in Mt Darwin East, beneficiaries who reside in Mutyandaedza, Jongwe and Nyamuraradza were compelled to contribute money to transport food aid from the social welfare offices to respective distribution points.

“The trends in the politicisation and maladministration of food aid have contributed to a host of human rights violations such as violations of the right to food, right to personal security as some victims were assaulted as well as violations of the right to equality and non-discrimination,” the rights monitors further noted.

According to the ZPP Monthly Monitoring Report for May, a cumulative 132 violations of human rights were recorded, down from 145 in the previous month of April.

“In May, the Zimbabwe Peace Project documented a total of 132 violations of human rights down from 145 in the previous month.

Public parliamentary hearings to gather citizens’ views on Bills were also fertile ground for attacks.

“Human rights violations were also recorded during the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment (PVO) Bill public hearings held between the 13th and the 17th of May countrywide.”

According to ZPP, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Zanu PF Muzvezve constituency legislator, Vangelis Haritatos arrogantly responded to allegations of partisan food aid distribution by saying, “There is no way we (the government) can distribute food on party lines, kana kunenzara kunenzara (if there is hunger, there is hunger).”

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