MP dares Mupfumira over partisan food distribution

MUTARE - MDC’s Mutasa Central MP, Trevor Saruwaka, has dared Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira to distribute food aid at his party’s rally in Honde Valley this weekend.

Saruwaka told the Daily News that he made the request after Mupfumira told legislators that she was against politicisation of food aid and would avail it for the starving and vulnerable at opposition political rallies — as she has done at Zanu PF’s.

“I have sent an invitation to Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister to come and distribute food at our rally this Saturday (today) at Masere Business Centre in Honde Valley, just as she does at Zanu PF rallies,” Saruwakwa said, adding that Mupfumira “challenged MPs to invite her to their functions and she promised to avail herself and the food for distribution to the vulnerable at such functions”.

This comes as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has fingered Zanu PF as the major perpetrator of the politicisation of food aid, a development which has led to donor agencies threatening to stop supporting Zimbabwe.

Although Mupfumira vehemently denied the allegations, she said government will not turn a blind eye to any concerns in a bid to ensure that no Zimbabwean starves.

“As government, we are responsible for the welfare of all Zimbabweans, regardless of political affiliation,” she said, adding that “ZHRC singled out six incidents, two in Mazowe, two in Bikita and two in Buhera.”

She added:  “I have communicated with the Commission as well as the chairman of the Commission (Elasto Mugwadi). We discussed and came to an understanding that ‘if you find such instances let us know and let’s investigate together.

“As we speak, they are going to Mazowe this week together with government officials and if we find anybody mischievous, a government official or a civil servant, we will deal with them because that is not government policy,” Mupfumira said.

“But you should also appreciate that these are five or so incidences when our reach is almost a million people. So, yes every incident must be investigated. We will follow through.”

She also rubbished reports that hungry citizens outside Zanu PF structures were not receiving food aid.

“When people are given food, no one requests a party card,” she said.

Saruwaka said he was expecting about 1 000 people at the Ward 10 rally, which he said was among the areas hardest-hit by the El Nino-induced drought that severely affected 2015/2016 season’s yields.

“The invitation is on the back drop of your presentation, under oath, in Parliament on Wednesday October 19 that, as a non-partisan minister, you are available to attend political gatherings where you are invited to help explain government policy on food aid and also distribute same to vulnerable groups at such gatherings,” read his invitation to Mupfumira.

In the October 24, letter, Saruwaka said he had been tasked by his constituency to extend the invitation to the Zanu PF minister after giving them feedback on October 19’s parliamentary proceedings.

“People were so happy to hear the good news from you and they asked me to invite you so that they may be relieved of the debilitating hunger wreaking havoc in their homes,” the letter read.

Saruwaka also copied an extract from the Hansard, which quotes the minister making the invitation to parliamentarians.

He also gave the minister directions and the mileage she would travel to the rally in the letter, which was copied to the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene, the district administrator, district social welfare officer and the Ward 10 councillor.

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