Gwanda councillor complains over politicisation of food

AN MDC-T councillor in Gwanda North has accused ruling Zanu PF officials of interfering in the distribution of food handouts for the elderly and vulnerable members of the community and politicising the process.

BY SILAS NKALA

Jerrot Sibanda (Ward 2 councillor) claimed Zanu PF activists had threatened him with unspecified action after he insisted on non-partisan food distribution.

“I have never known peace since I assumed office as councillor of Ward 2 because of people who lost the election in 2013,” he said.

“There is a lot of interference from the ruling party and I have even received disappearance threats if I stand in their way. I have met senior government officials in Gwanda, who told me that I was being accused by the same people of distributing the food only to MDC-T supporters, which was just a blackmail.”

(File Photo): Gwanda Municipality

Sibanda said a local government official, whom he declined to name, told him that State security agents were monitoring him.

“We are always advised that this food relief is for the vulnerable groups and it is the role of traditional leaders, who live among the villagers, who assist in the selection of beneficiaries and the councillor only approves the list,” he said.

“I am surprised to hear that I will be made to disappear because I chose my own people to benefit, which is not true and a certain government official in the province is said to have engaged CIO [Central Intelligency Organisation] operatives to make me disappear, if I continue to be involved in the food distribution.

“It is in the best interest that I spell out the modalities on how this food should be distributed. If it is meant for the ruling party supporters, then as a councillor, why should I be involved? I personally looked at the elderly people who cannot fend for themselves.”

The councillor said 21 villagers were selected from each village in the ward, leading to a total of 105 beneficiaries listed.

“I had instructed the community members, with the assistance of traditional leaders, to make the selection. They selected about 450 people, but due to the limitation of food supplies, I asked them to trim the list to 105, as per food supply,” Sibanda said. “That is when four able-boded women, who belong to the ruling party, came up with their own list, which included their names. I disagreed with them and took their list to the people, who openly rejected it.”

Zanu PF Matabeleland South chairman, Rabelani Choene declined to comment on the matter.

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