Zimbabwe: Villagers Forced to Buy Zanu-PF Cards in Exchange for Food
There are increasing concerns that ZANU PF is using the food relief programme to coerce villagers to take up party membership, amid a severe grain shortage in the country.
Reports from the drought-prone areas of Matabeleland and the Midlands indicate that ZANU PF officials have taken over the distribution of grain, after kicking out non-governmental organisations that used to hand out food to villagers.
Villagers in Silobela, Midlands, revealed that since the NGOs were barred, soldiers are now overseeing the distribution of grain such as rice and wheat under operation code-named ‘Maguta’ (Well-Fed).
Desire Mangena told SW Radio Africa that only ZANU PF supporters are well-fed, as the selective distribution means that members of other parties are missing out on the much-needed food aid.
Mangena said hungry villagers had resorted to using ZANU PF membership as an access card to food aid. However, he said it will be folly for ZANU PF officials to think that party membership means people support the regime.
He said: “Most people in Silobela support either of the MDCs or ZAPU and if ZANU PF is using membership cards to gauge their popularity they will be very disappointed come the day of the elections.”
In Matebeleland South, MDC-T parliamentarian Gabriel Ndebele told this station how ZANU PF supporters on Friday took hijacked grain meant for all Matobo South villagers and allocated it to their party’s members only.
Ndebele said the incident at Bidi Business Centre happened in his presence, but he was powerless to do anything and could only confront the youths, led by war veteran Soul Ndlovu, for an explanation.
“They told me that food is sourced by ZANU PF and therefore reserved for our people only.
“The grain comes from national silos and is being distributed under the grain loan scheme. It is meant for all Zimbabweans and not supporters of just one party.
“Some of our supporters have been asking why the MDC does not come up with a parallel food aid programme for its members but as a party we are trying to operate in a manner that unifies, rather than divides the people.
“The partisan allocation of food by ZANU PF is not helping anyone as we are still trying to unite people divided by the politics and violence of 2008,” Ndebele added.
The legislator said he was in the process of writing a report to his leadership in Harare expressing his concerns, and said it would help if food distribution was left in the hands of traditional leaders as well as district administrators from all constituency wards to ensure inclusivity.
In February Matebeleland South Governor Angelina Masuku expressed ignorance over reports that people in Gwanda were being asked to prove ZANU PF membership as a pre-condition to receiving food aid.
Masuku told SW Radio Africa that grain should be distributed to all residents regardless of party affiliation.
However, MP Ndebele said Masuku’s response was a standard answer from all ZANU PF officials: “Events on the ground suggest that the leadership is to blame for the discrimination of members of other parties when it comes to food relief.”
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