The politicization of food is gaining traction in Zimbabwe ahead of the 2018 elections with opposition members being told to support Zanu PF or starve, a peace watchdog said Wednesday.
“The unscrupulous tactic betrays a sense of desperation on the part of the ruling party,” the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) observed in its monthly assessment of the political situation in the country.
“The message is clear; support or starve. Support the ruling party or starve; if you do not render your support, through buying a membership card … or altogether denouncing opposition leaders, then you may starve.”
President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace, especially, has been accused by opposition parties of dolling out government farm inputs and food only to Zanu PF supporters during her rallies.
While opposition supporters are the targets of most violations, ZPP said members of the ruling party seen as sympathetic to former Vice President Joice Mujuru are also facing harassment.
Violations recorded last month ranged from land invasions, food politicization and denial of freedoms of assembly and expression, among others.
“Free political expression continues to be curtailed across the provinces with consequences either meted out instantly or promised to occur at election time in 2018,” the watchdog added.
Zimbabwe is facing yet another year of hunger with aid agencies saying 1.5 million people will need food assistance between now and the next harvest.
Zanu PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo was not available for comment.
But the ruling party’s lawmaker for Pelandaba-Mpopoma Joseph Tshuma denied the politicization allegations in a recent interview with VOA.