Video footage exposes ZANU PF manipulation of food
By Lance Guma
Drought and a chaotic and often violent land reform exercise have all contributed to food shortages in Zimbabwe since 2000. In recent years, the shortages have been severe and given ZANU PF the opportunity to “punish” those members of the public, especially in rural areas, who have not supported Robert Mugabe’s party.
SW Radio Africa has obtained video footage containing the testimonies of people who have suffered from the manipulation of food distribution in the country and its effects on rural populations. Even with a coalition government in place, a village head is seen in the footage, organising those gathered according to their village name. It is in these lines that beneficiaries are sorted using pre-supplied lists.
A villager who was denied food was asked to explain why he was not getting any: “As MDC (supporters) we are told to first buy US$5 (ZANU PF) cards in order to get food,” he explains. Asked if he had bought the card he told the interviewer he had not been able to do so. Another villager is asked about the harvests in the area and if they were good enough to see them survive.
“You can get a good harvest if you get fertiliser and other farm inputs. As MDC (supporters) we are not given maize seeds. We can’t even buy on credit. When maize seed comes it is shared among ZANU PF people only,” he explains. Another person interviewed explains what happens in his village.
“When donor food comes and it is shared, they, ZANU PF, invite each other without our knowledge. It can be maize, groundnuts or bean seeds. They give it to each other there. They write down each other’s names as ZANU PF supporters only.” Asked if the donors know this, the villager says “yes they already know.”
ZANU PF Member of Parliament for Muzarabani Edward Raradza, for example, is taking advantage of this situation. In a video clip SW Radio Africa released in June he tells a meeting in his constituency that any opposition members will not get food.
“If we hear that he (headman) allowed MDC to hold a meeting in this place. Tell some of them (MDC) that we will bring projects and food and for them to benefit they should come back home (to ZANU PF). They know that even in Parliament we tell them. I am saying this here and if the MDC people are not here go and tell them that MP Raradza Edward has said so.”
This week United Nations (UN) aid agencies said Zimbabwe requires an additional US$73 million in humanitarian aid this year due to increased food needs for the most vulnerable groups. Alain Noudehou the UN humanitarian country coordinator is quoted by the Zimonline news website saying they were appealing for US$488 million in 2011, up from the initial US$415 million.
Several other reports have shown that ZANU PF continues to manipulate the supply and distribution of government-subsidised grain and the registration of recipients for international food aid. Groups like Human Rights Watch have in the past made the point that “International aid agencies must devote greater resources and attention to preventing the manipulation of recipient lists.”
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