Self-styled Zimbabwean war veterans, ruling party militia and
suspected agents of the state security apparatus are disrupting efforts
by non-governmental organizations to relaunch food aid in rural districts of Masvingo
province, sources said Wednesday.
Sources in Masvingo say the veterans and militia
in Masvingo districts including Gutu, Bikita and Mwenezi accused the NGOs of defying a government ban on aid distribution imposed in June but nominally lifted late last month and supporting
the opposition – charging in addition that MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai has
caused Zimbabweans further suffering by refusing to sign a power-sharing agreement.
Sources told VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the war veterans chased
away Red Cross workers attempting to follow up on people displaced by post-election violence.
They said Care International was also among the groups feeling pressure from the war veterans and
militia backing President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.
Masvingo is feeling the pinch
of hunger following a failed harvest and disruption for the past three months of food assistance distribution channels. Reports said many villagers are surviving by foraging for edible roots and other available foodstuffs.
Harare late last month lifted the ban on NGO humanitarian aid activities that it imposed in June accusing such groups of backing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change ahead of a presidential run-off election. But such
organizations have not fully geared up as the government has imposed
new registration and reporting requirements.
Chivi Senator Mwenezi Noel Mutisi of the MDC
formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri
of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that it is ironic the war veterans are harassing aid providers as they have
benefited from handouts.
War veterans and militia
members are said to be also harassing humanitarian aid workers sent into the
countryside by churches, though the ban on non-governmental organizations
imposed in June did not extend to church activities.
Sources said Bishop Paul Mkome of the Church of the Nazarene in Headlands has been under pressure from suspected ZANU-PF militia and war veterans over the assistance he has been providing to victims of political violence in the areas.
Such sources said the bishop’s residence has been
surrounded in the evening four times in the past few weeks by the suspected
war veterans and militia who have urging him to come out and talk about his work. Mkome
has arranged victims of violence from the area to be transported to a Harare hospital.
Studio seven was unable to reach Bishop Mkome to
confirm the reports.
Elsewhere, Pastor Wilson Mugabe of the United Baptist
Church in Gweru, a Christian Alliance member, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he was detained and warned late last week by
Masvingo police and Central Intelligence Organization agents after seeking clearance for a prayer meeting and peace march.
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...