By Success Majaramhepo
Villagers in Chipinge’s Munyokowere village Ward 5 have bemoaned rampant discrimination in government sponsored food aid distribution, which they allege is being perpetrated by ZANU PF aligned village heads and councilors.
Yeukai Mangwiro, a Munyokowere villager said she and her fellow villagers are being denied food aid because they are supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
“The system used in the distribution of food is flawed. The system is abused by village heads and ZANU PF officials who are at the centre of determining who benefits from food aid. ZANU PF youths in the area have openly declared that opposition party supporters will never get food aid,” Mangwiro said
Another villager, Florence Chakanyuka alleged that food distribution is being conducted privately by village heads and ZANU PF officials who hide information on the dates and times of food distribution from perceived opposition party supporters.
“Village heads are now using phone calls and text messages to alert people about the dates and times of food distribution, but we are being left out. In January we heard that people had been given food and we were not made aware of the time and place of the food distribution,” she said.
Taurai Mutenha from the same village said the system in which government food aid is distributed is totally different from that of donor organizations, who, he said, do not distribute food on political party lines.
“Donors are much better because they use people who are apolitical when it comes to food distribution. This is different from government food aid distribution in which ZANU PF officials and partisan village heads take a lead,” Mutenha said with reference to GOAL an lrish International organisation that also distributes food aid in Munyokowere and surrounding areas.
As stated by Claris Madhuku, of Platform for Youth and Community Development (PYCD) a community based organization that operates in Chipinge, Munyokowere villagers have, all along depended on donor organizations for food aid with government not chipping in. However, with more people needing food aid this year, donor aid has not been adequate and government has intervened. With government sponsored food aid being distributed on partisan lines, a lot of villagers have been left to suffer the consequences of food shortage.
“The government has tried to help us, but with food being distributed on political party lines, our children are no longer going to school because of hunger,” said Mavis Takawadini a villager.
A Checheche Secondary School teacher, Phillimon Phiri said food shortages in the area were worsened by Cyclone Idai, which destroyed crops and food reserves in March 2019.
“Drought has been worsened by Cyclone Idai which, destroyed crops, properties and lives. The food shortages are so bad that some families are now marrying off their teenage daughters to older man with better economic means,” Phiri said.
Human rights activist, Chipo Farao of PYCD said government must urgently put in place a non-partisan food aid distribution system to curb the deepening crisis in Munyokowere.
“Non partisan drought relief committees must be created to ensure food assistance reaches all who need it,” she said