'Zanu PF officials withhold food aid'

HARARE - Scores of drought-stricken Zimbabweans are starving as Zanu PF provincial administrators are withholding food aid from China, Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira said.

The minister told the just-ended Zanu PF annual conference in Masvingo last Friday that she was making efforts to compel the officials to release the desperately needed food immediately.

“We have the issue of rice that came from China. Other provinces have still not distributed the food aid to people,” she said, acknowledging that only Masvingo province had done so.

“Other provinces are still holding onto the rice. Let it be given to people,” Mupfumira said, adding that “we allocated 1 750 tonnes per province”.

“When it’s finished, we will give you more because we received a lot of rice from China. But if you don’t give people, we can’t give you more. So leadership, go and give people the rice that came from China,” she insisted.

Zimbabwe has almost incessant food crises, with President Robert Mugabe declaring a state of disaster in regions worse affected by the El Niño-induced drought.

The crisis has mostly affected children, lactating mothers and the aged.

Reports from the UN suggest that nearly five million people face starvation, with some children showing signs of dwarfism caused by malnutrition.

Long-term exposure to starvation and the breakdown of infrastructure have also led to a rampant spread of preventable diseases such as diarrhoea, further deteriorating the health of children and other vulnerable members of society.

Despite the food distribution crisis, Mupfumira said no one will starve during the lean season.

“We have food for the next eight months, no one will starve,” she said, further saying “We are pleading with our departments, food mitigation and drought relief committees being led by PAs (provincial administrators) at provincial level and DAs (district administrators) at district levels,” Mupfumira said.

Government, the United Nations and humanitarian organisations have been scaling up drought response efforts ahead of the coming peak lean season between January and March 2017.

“We are asking that everyone should have something to eat….hunger is stalking even the able-bodied, so we ask that our registers are up to date. We are being inundated with calls, vanhu vachikumbira zvekudya (people asking for food), there is no need (for vulnerable groups to come to us) if the departments are doing their job (and going into communities).”

Mupfumira said she had no problem with any Member of Parliament wanting to assist in food mitigation.

She however, said the problem arises when legislators and senators want to distribute the food, insisting that distribution must be done through the Social Welfare ministry.

In a bid to elevate the country to its breadbasket status, government has also launched a wide range of schemes that include Command Agriculture and the Presidential Vulnerable Agricultural Inputs Scheme.

Command Agriculture will see farmers being assisted with inputs, lime, fertilisers and fuel while communal farmers will be assisted through the Presidential Vulnerable Agricultural Inputs Scheme.

The inputs will target 820 000 vulnerable households. Government has acquired 800 000 vouchers for this programme which are being distributed to the provinces.

Comments (2)

Withholding food aid aid just for political reasons is just taking the patience of the suffering masses too far.This food was not sourced by zanu pf,so to use it as a political tool is a very cruel stance which is totally devoid of any element of humanity.When these zanu pf goons look at themselves everyday in the mirror,are they proud of what they see in the mirror?

Janana wa Bikaz - 19 December 2016

plagiarised from The Herald?

Pondo - 19 December 2016

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