MUTASA, MANICALAND —
Villagers in Manicaland province’s Mutasa district, say they are facing serious hunger in an area where food is allegedly being distributed along political lines.
Mutasa resident Lynette Mudehwe, who is also a human rights activist, says people are in desperate need of food.
“Mutasa district is severely affected by the drought owing to poor rains and there is no food, and the people are in need of it from the government and other partners that can chip in at this critical time.”
She adds that the little food aid being distributed by the government and relief agencies is only benefiting individuals allegedly linked to the ruling party.
“Well, the distribution of food is being done along party political lines. The hierarchy is that from the DA (District Administrator) and the PA (Provincial Administrator) all that are political appointees as the government is power, is the one that does all the distribution. The people that are given the food are members of that (ruling) party in power alone.”
These allegations were neither confirmed nor denied by the ruling party. President Mugabe recently said no Zimbabwean should be denied food for political reasons.
Another villager, Edwin Sigauke, insists that state food is being distributed only to Zanu PF supporters, adding that this amounts to corruption.
“Hunger is deep-rooted and the way food is distributed … only a few bags of the maize grain are given to many people to share and I see this problem not ending until it is addressed by the powers that be.”
Miriam Dube, who also lives in Mutasa district, says some villagers are now trading their livestock for maize grain in Honde Valley where the food situation is under control.
Honde Valley lies in agro-ecological region one while some parts of the drought ravaged Manicaland province are in the least productive natural region five.
Some villagers like Winnet Samanga, are now also competing for food with baboons that are constantly sneaking into households to grab the little grain sourced by local people.
She adds that hunger is forcing some hungry women and girls to engage in prostitution. “The plight of the people is being made worse by the prying animals taking away the chickens and getting our grain. We have had a situation where prostitution has risen in the past few months in the communities as people are desperate to make earns meet.”
Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister, Mandi Chimene, recently told journalists in Mutare that the government would ensure that no citizen us going to starve, but the situation on the ground looks almost getting out of control.
Local parliamentarians and school headmasters say large numbers of students are dropping out of school while others faint in classes due to hunger.
Other areas affected by the devastating drought fueled by the El Nino weather phenomenon are Buhera, Chimanimani, Chipinge and Nyanga communal lands.