By Nomalanga Moyo
28 February 2013
Reports have emerged that ZANU PF officials in Gwanda, in Matebeleland South, are using food as a political weapon against starving residents.
Gwanda was declared a drought-hit area by the provincial governor, Angelina Masuku, paving the way for the government and relief agencies to step in and provide food relief.
Since December Gwanda has been receiving wheat, rice and maize, with distribution being coordinated by Mathomula Makhurane, who is the ZANU PF chairman for Ward 16.
However, residents were stunned when they were asked to produce ZANU PF party cards as a pre-condition to receiving food aid.
SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme was told by some residents that those who cannot produce the cards are being turned away without the much-needed grain.
Contacted for comment governor Masuku said as far as she was concerned the grain should be distributed to all the residents regardless of party affiliation.
“Anyone who is denied food is free to come into my office and discuss their concerns.
“So far no-one has raised any issues about food distribution in Gwanda, and if it is happening I would take action as the office responsible for sourcing the grain,” Masuku said.
There have been similar reports across the country of selective distribution of food relief in favour of ZANU PF supporters.
In 2012 a serving soldier, who is also the son of a traditional leader in ward 15 in Chimanimani, Manicaland Province, is alleged to have hijacked a shipment of maize meant for all villagers and distributed it to ZANU PF supporters only.
Also in 2012, villagers from Ezimnyama Ward in Plumtree, told the Daily News how the district administrator was giving food aid meant for the entire community to ZANU PF supporters only.
Saungweme said a report has been made to The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), which has been monitoring reports of partisan food distribution. But just like the two MDCs in the coalition government, JOMIC is powerless to make arrests or change the situation.