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    Sunday, 18 September 2016

    Zanu PF is politicising food aid in Bikita East — ZHRC

    • Maladministration and stealing of food aid rampant


    – The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has found Zanu PF structures in Bikita East guilty of politicising food aid following investigations into complaints received from residents of the constituency.
    The findings on the politicisation of food were made after investigations by the human rights body into complaints received from five constituencies throughout the country namely Bikita East, Buhera North, Mazowe Central, Muzarabani North and Muzarabani South constituencies.
    ZHRC chairman, Elasto Hilarious Mugwadi said the acts by Zanu PF and some Government officials are a violation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe in regard to the right to equality and non-discrimination, right to sufficient food, and right of older persons to receive reasonable care and assistance from their families and the State.
    Announcing the findings at a Press conference in Harare on Wednesday last week, Mugwadi said there was discrimination in the distribution of food aid along political lines in the five constituencies. He said Zanu PF leadership and Government offices are guilty of discriminating beneficiaries depending on what political party they belonged to.
    Those refused food aid and agricultural inputs were mainly MDC T supporters and it did not matter whether they were elderly people, said Mugwadi.
    Mugwadi called upon the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to strengthen its mechanisms for addressing complaints arising out of food aid or agricultural inputs.
    Mugwadi particularly blamed Zanu PF councillors, district administrators, village secretaries, village heads and headmen for refusing MDC T supporters food aid in Bikita East. He said that in Bikita West opposition party supporters were openly told that they would not receive food aid.
    Bikita District Administrator Innocent Matingwina also fingered in the report denied the allegations.
    "I never come across such circumstances where food is politicised as it is difficult to marginalise anyone due to their political affliation and the food is distributed by an array of partners," he said.
    Ward 23 Councillor Tirifaina Mukaka (Zanu PF) said, " There is no politicisation of food but rather the food is not enough to give all those in need".
    Ward 5 Councillor Chaitwa Makuwaza (Zanu PF) said, "The food distribution is based on provided lists and only the people on the list get the food aid when availed regardless of their political affiliation and those who are not will certainly not get the food".
    An MDC-T Councillor who refused to be identified when The Mirror reached him for a comment said, "It is true that food is in shortage, however, there is politicisation in wards 13 and 14 which is MDC dominated. We are always given excuses such as we came late, food is in serious shortage, their aim being to discredit opposition leaders in their constituencies".
    Mugwadi did not name the officials involved.
    "There is unbridled maladministration on the part of some public officials who are performing their duties partially and with bias against persons of particular political affiliations in contravention of the Public Service Regulations SI 1/2000 which requires public officials to be apolitical and discharge their duties impartially and objectively," said Mugwadi.
    He added that Zanu PF youths who are not even part of the distribution committee were involved in the distribution of food aid and agricultural inputs. He added that elderly people who are not politically active but have family members such as children and grandchildren who are affiliated to the opposition parties are also being denied food aid.
    In Bikita, Mugwadi particularly noted Dewure Resettlement Area as one of the places where biased distribution of aid is rampant.
    He said the other problem was that those whose rights are being violated have nowhere to turn to because authorities including the district administrator do not take action when they receive such reports.
    "The perpetrators denied the allegations but the Commission on the basis of evidence gathered came to the conclusion that there is indeed discrimination and exclusion of certain citizens in the distribution of food aid in Bikita East, Mazowe Central, Muzarabani North, and South and Buhera North.
    "The ruling party members are the major perpetrators in violations linked to distribution of food, agricultural inputs and other forms of aid," said Mugwadi.
    He also said that the other problem was that community members were not aware of the distribution criteria and this exposed them to manipulation by those in charge of giving out food. For those that knew the criteria there was also no remedy since no one listened or attended to their grievances.
    Mugwadi added that the practice did not only violate the country's laws but is a violation of UN Principles on Fundamental Human Rights to Food which guarantee freedom from hunger and access to safe and nutritious food by way of Availability, Accessibility, Sustainability and Non-Discrimination.
    "The rights that ZHRC found to have been violated are Right to equality and non-discrimination (section 56 of the Constitution), Right to sufficient food (Section 77(b) of the Constitution) and Right of older persons to receive reasonable care and assistance from their families and the State (Section 82(a) and (c) of the Constitution).
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