Monday, July 14, 2014 Local time: 07:15

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Zimbabwe Panel Probes Food Politicization Amid Growing Hunger

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Ntungamili Nkomo

The committee tasked with monitoring the implementation of Zimbabwe's power-sharing agreement said Friday it was investigating allegations of rampant food politicization by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party.

Officials said they deployed a team to Mutare North, Manicaland province, to meet with villagers allegedly denied maize by a local headman, under a government loan scheme run by the Grain Marketing Board.

Politicization of food has been reported across the country, and last month cabinet took up the issue and ordered grain officials to ensure there is no discrimination.

Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee official Thabitha Khumalo said her organ has received complaints from different parts of the country, adding the grain scheme should not be used for political purposes.

"We have since opened up offices in all provinces to respond to different grievances including reports of partisan grain distribution," Khumalo told VOA.

"Our team visited Mutare today (Friday) to investigate reports that some villagers are being denied maize because they are members of the MDC."

Zimbabwe, which needs at least 2,2 million tonnes of grain for annual subsistence, is facing a 1 million tonne grain deficit due to drought.

Insiza South Member of Parliament Siyabonga Malandu Ncube said the food politicization problem was particularly rampant in his constituency, located in drought-prone Matabeleland South.

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