Row over partisan food distribution

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AS the food crisis ravages the Matabeleland provinces and other parts of the country, the opposition MDC-T MP for Binga North, Prince Sibanda, yesterday said the Grain Marketing Board (GMB)’s presidential food relief was only distributed to Zanu PF members at Manjolo business centre on Saturday.

SILAS NKALA
STAFF REPORTER

Sibanda told Southern Eye in an interview that GMB brought 600x50kg of maize at Manjolo centre under the programme, but it only benefited Zanu PF members after known party activists in the area took charge of the distribution.

“Known Zanu PF activist Titus Munkuli, a losing council candidate for the Manjolo ward as well as Andrew Binga and Beritha Mudenda were in the truck with GMB and Arex officials,” said Sibanda.

“After the maize was offloaded, Munkuli allegedly paid $600 to the transporter and stood on the bags telling people that the maize came from President Robert Mugabe to thank the people who voted for Zanu PF in the July 31 elections,” said Sibanda.

It is also alleged that an official from GMB confirmed to the people that the maize was from Mugabe to thank the people for their votes. Sibanda said they were already engaging Chief Binga over the issue and a meeting had been scheduled for villagers in Manjolo to air their views.

“It is clear that Zanu PF is taking my tax and yours to purchase maize from Zambia so that it punishes the taxpayers and feed only its activists. We are saying if Zanu PF continues trading in this way, then here in Binga they must start preparing police cells to lock many of our people in because we will protest in numbers against this.”

Sibanda said the MDC-T would mobilise those who had money to come together through the councillors to purchase maize as a way of countering the Zanu PF government’s partisan food distribution.

“We will buy the maize through such means and I will hire transport to bring it to the people. I will meet people in the constituency to tell them to stand against Zanu PF’s rot and stop this nonsense. If it means people being arrested for protesting against uneven food distribution, then they must clear their cells to accommodate many of us.”

Contacted for comment yesterday, Zanu PF Matabeleland North provincial chairperson Richard Moyo said he was in a meeting. His deputy Reeds Dube said he was not aware of the issue.

Binga is one of the areas hardest hit by the present food crisis and there are fears that villagers might starve to death if food distribution is not depoliticised.

The food row in Binga comes at a time the MDC-T national leadership has appealed to Mugabe to intervene and stop the partisan distribution of food aid countrywide.

MDC-T national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa told our sister publication NewsDay last week that members of his party had been denied government food aid because of their political affiliation.

“I received calls from Gokwe, Mutoko, Hurungwe, Murehwa and other areas from people complaining of Zanu PF actions of politicising food aid,” Chamisa said.

“It’s inhuman. They are behaving like the al-Shabaab or Boko Haram (Somalian and Nigerian Islamic terrorist organisations). If they are going to starve people, they are not fit to govern this country. You and I are paying tax and our tax is used to buy food which should be given to all the people.”

Two weeks ago, concerns were raised at a Matabeleland South provincial drought relief meeting in Matobo district that Zanu PF MPs were “punishing” MDC supporters by politicising the distribution of farming inputs.

However, Zanu PF Matabeleland South deputy provincial spokesperson Jabulani Phetshu said the reports were not true and accused the MDC formations of failing to cope with their election defeat.

“We can’t separate people who voted for Zanu PF and those who did not because we don’t demand party cards in distributing the inputs,” Phetshu said.

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