By Alex Bell
13 February 2013
Residents in Bikita have raised concern that sub chiefs in the area are diverting critical food aid to ZANU PF supporters only, and threatening anyone who dares to report it.
A resident, speaking on condition of anonymity, told SW Radio Africa that food aid provided by international charity organisations, specifically for vulnerable people, was being handed over to sub chiefs.
“These are organisations like Care international, the Red Cross, and they provide food for the elderly and for orphans,” the resident said.
He explained that local representatives of the organisations, who distribute the food, are being threatened by the sub chiefs who force them to handover the aid packages. These representatives do not report that the food aid is not going to its intended recipients, because of fear of possible retribution by the sub chiefs.
“I’m sure that Care and the other groups don’t know because the representatives are scared to report what is happening,” the resident said.
It’s understood that the sub chiefs are distributing the food aid to ZANU PF supporters and keeping much of it for themselves.
“The problem is we can’t report it. We thought we could get a group together and report it, but people are scared they will be known and expelled from the district,” the resident said.
The Red Cross told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that, “we presently do not have any running programmes in the area.”
“The only assistance we gave to Bikita district was in form on non-food relief items (tents, blankets, kitchen sets and black polythene) in view of the storm disasters and flooding that affected most areas around Zimbabwe early this year. We have it on good record that those relief items reached the intended beneficiaries as informed by our assessments thanks to our volunteer structures that guarantee us presence in every area. Our name must certainly have been erroneously dragged into the matter,” the Red Cross said in an emailed response to questions.
Care International also responded by email with the following comments:
“CARE is committed to providing independent, impartial, apolitical relief and development assistance on the basis of need to improve sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable populations, according to the Code of Conduct for Non-Governmental Organizations and to CARE International’s Code of Ethics.
In Zimbabwe we work closely with local community representatives who help us to decide which beneficiaries are the most vulnerable and should be targeted for assistance.
We have control systems in place and take any reports or complaints about how our aid is dispersed very seriously. We have a system whereby community members can anonymously report any issues to CARE.”