Opposition 'denied' food aid in Chiwundura

HARARE - Zanu PF has been accused of withholding food aid from opposition members as part of forcing them to vote for their candidate in next month’s Chiwundura by-election in the Midlands Province.

However, Zanu PF has rubbished the allegations, maintaining that it is concentrating on retaining the seat which fell vacant following the death of its MP, Kizito Chivamba in April.

“It’s not true, there is nothing like that. As Zanu PF we are busy preparing for that by-election,” said the party’s Midlands provincial spokesperson Cornelius Mupereri.

The by-election is pencilled for July 15.

Civic organisation Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) said opponents of Zanu PF had been told they would never get any food aid.

“In Ward 14, two village heads, Gideon Mputa and Otilia Sileba from Mlizu Farm are denying non-Zanu PF supporters food aid.

“The two who are distributing rice from the ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare are only giving the aid to those who would have produced Zanu PF membership cards.

“The village heads openly indicated that the food aid was meant for Zanu PF supporters only. The distribution process started on the 1st of June, 2017 and is ongoing,” the peace-building organisation said in its report.

Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira said she will investigate the allegations. “I never heard such reports but that is not government policy, we will investigate if we get enough details,” Mupfumira said.

HZT said last month in Kurima Kwakanaka Village, Sunny Chitarata, a youth officer and Clever Tarisa, the Zanu PF ward chairperson, denied opposition supporters food aid.

“The two removed the names of all opposition supporters from the beneficiaries list and indicated that they will only receive the aid after they renounce their opposition membership. They also forced everyone present at the distribution exercise to chant Zanu PF slogans. In Ward 9, Irvine Mapute, a youth officer and Rosina Mupuma a Zanu PF activist denied opposition supporters food aid during a food distribution meeting in May 2017. The two women distributed the rice to those who had Zanu PF membership cards only,” it added.

The scathing report on the allegations of the politicisation of food aid in rural areas by Zanu PF officials lays bare accusations that have long been denied by President Robert Mugabe. The Chiwundura National Assembly seat fell vacant after the death of Chivamba in April.

Zanu PF’s Brown Ndlovu will square off with Takudzwa Guzete of National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Brighton Mudzwiti of FreeZim Congress and Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe (PDZ)’s Webster Zulu.

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