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More Discord in Zimbabwe Government as MDC Alleges Abuse of Farm Assistance

  • Gibbs Dube

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said ZANU-PF has hijacked a project meant to help about a half million families by distributing farm aid along political lines

The latest source of tension within Zimbabwe's fractious power-sharing government has to do with the distribution of US$100 million worth of seed and food packs purchased under the country's 2011 budget to help about a half million poor families.

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has accused President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party of hijacking the project and distributing the materials along political lines.

Distribution was agreed to be carried out by the Grain Marketing Board, but the MDC says the state-controlled enterprise has been politically compromised.

Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that the party takes the alleged abuse of public funds very seriously.

ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo dismissed the charges, saying Finance Minister Tendai Biti, secretary general of the MDC formation, failed to budget enough funds to meet the needs of Zimbabwe's most vulnerable rural citizens.

Elsewhere, Zimbabwe’s remaining 300 white commercial farmers said they planted no crops this farming season due to scarce credit and fears of further farm seizures.

Commercial Farmers Union President Deon Theron said his members have heard that ZANU-PF intends to seize the remaining white-owned farms in the name of land reform and distribute them to its supporters this year ahead of anticipated elections.

That would cost the white farmers their crops and leave them unable to repay bank loans. Banks themselves have been reluctant to lend for that reason.

Theron told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that rising political uncertainty is leaving the country's white commercial farmers in a difficult position.

In rural Murehwa District, small-scale and communal farmers said they received maize seed and other agricultural inputs late this planting season. Communal farmer Jack Milanzi said farmers are now having trouble getting enough fertilizer.