By Tererai Karimakwenda
03 September, 2010
The Governor’s office in Matabeleland South has reportedly said that 300,000 villagers in four districts urgently need food supplies, but they are getting no assistance from donors. Serious food shortages have hit the drought stricken province, and villagers say organizations that usually provide them with food left the area, due to interference by ZANU PF officials and their violent thugs.
The situation has become so dire that last week the provincial governor, Angeline Masuku, summoned leaders from all political parties and civic groups and made an urgent appeal to donors for food supplies.
The one name that always comes up in discussions on this situation is, Andrew Langa, the ZANU-PF chairman for Matabeleland South, whose vicious acts became notorious during the 2002 elections.
According to reports Langa claims that aid agencies pulled out “for reasons only known to themselves”. But local villagers, when they are not too fearful to comment, point to Langa as the ringleader in a violent ZANU PF campaign against the MDC and any perceived supporters.
Our Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme, said Langa has an elaborate history in terms of violence. He believes the Filabusi and Insiza areas of Matabeleland became impossible for donors to assist because of violence perpetrated by Langa, with the backing of central intelligence agents.
Saungweme recalled some incidents from Langa’s sordid past.
He said: “In 2002 about 5 to 10,000 rand worth of Zimbabwean dollars were taken forcibly from a MDC vehicle by ZANU PF youth in that area, and those youth were operating under the command of Andrew Langa.”
In the same year Langa shot Darlington Kadengu, an MDC activist who is now a personal assistant to the deputy Prime Minister Thokozane Khupe. Saungweme said the bullet is still lodged in Kadengu’s spine, as doctors fear he may become immobilized if they were to remove it.
Our correspondent said he went to Filabusi this year to report on a meeting of ZIPRA war veterans, that was held in Langa’s territory. He said the veterans were stalked by vehicles belonging to CIO agents and they ended up changing the venue for their meeting, to try to escape the intimidation.
MDC MP Siyabonga Ncube, popularly known as Malandu in Insiza, has also blamed Langa for driving away the donor agencies that used to assist with food in the area. Ncube reportedly said that the agencies were accused of working for the MDC by Robert Mugabe himself, and they left soon after.
Matabeleland South has always been a low rainfall area and the province has relied on food aid since 2000. In many areas people survive on just one meal a day, even though there is plenty of food in the shops. The problem is that villagers cannot afford to buy it and unemployment in Zimbabwe is over 90%.
An estimated 2.1 million people are in need of food aid around the country.