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Politicization of food distribution schemes disenfranchise marginalised community in Wedza

By Svinurai Nyathi, Wedza

In the midst of the ongoing El Nino induced drought that has led to poor harvests in parts of Zimbabwe’s rural farming communities, villagers in Wedza district are suffering from food deficits. People living with disabilities, women and children being the most affected while powerful people prioritize themselves to benefit from the food distribution schemes.

“The powerful people in the community, including traditional leaders, councillors, ruling party activists and officials, are positioning themselves and their families to get first preference in food distribution,” said Bhunu Chikanyange, an Executive Member of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) for Wedza district.

The Ministry of Public Service, National Housing and Social Welfare is working with traditional leaders, councillors and other ruling party official and structures in ensuring the food is equally distributed in communities, but the distribution process is marred with corruption with official looting the food meant to be shared among the communities.

Newland Chadoka, from Chadoka village, says women and people with disabilities are being left out in the food distribution programs, while others are offering bribes to officials so that they can get first preference in the distribution.

“We are wondering how the people will survive due to the flawed food distribution process. The marginalised groups are now boycotting these community development programs and activities, including ward and village development meetings, since they are left out of livelihood issues,” says Chadoka.

“I feel we are being used by the powerful members of the community who invite us to activities to please stakeholders and organisations that emphasize on inclusion of marginalised groups. I no longer attend their activities because we are being left out in critical issues such as food distribution,” says Tendai Marufu, a young woman from Ward 4, Wedza District.

Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Executive Member for Wedza district, Bhunu Chikanyange, says the politicization of food distribution by high-ranking officials at the expense of vulnerable groups is a true reflection of what is happening at national level.

“As long as we do not change the whole system of governance in Zimbabwe, such malpractices will continue,” says Chikanyange.

The District Coordinator for the Ministry of National Housing, Public Service and Social Welfare Rufaro Mutende referred all the questions to the national office since, they are not allowed to speak on behalf of the Ministry.

District Development Coordinator, Kenneth Shumba challenged all those who are facing these challenges to approach his office with the evidence, such that action will be taken against people who are tarnishing the image of the government.

“The second republic has a policy to leave no one and no place behind; hence no-one should be left out of these programs,” Shumba said.

Zimbabwe is facing an El-Nino induced drought that has since been declared a state of disaster by the government.

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