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Zimbabwe Human Rights Group Finds Discrimination In Humanitarian Aid

A faith-based human rights organization, Zimbabwe Peace Project, has accused the ruling ZANU-PF party of politicizing distribution of humanitarian aid in the Eastern Highlands province of Manicaland. But the government dismissed the charge.

It found abuses by opposition politicians, but to a much lesser degree.

The Peace Project makes the charges in a new research report that accuses officials of diverting scarce grain and selling it on the parallel market or across the border.

The rights group said it has documented cases in which distribution of drugs or other assistance to people living with HIV-AIDS has been decided on the basis of political affiliation. The organization said the orphans and widows of Aids victims have also been denied food and medical assistance.

The report estimated that 83% of the incidents of discrimination could be attributed to ruling party officials, while about 6% were laid at the doorstep of the opposition.

But ZANU-PF Harare province spokesman William Nhara, also principal director of public affairs in the office of President Robert Mugabe, dismissed the Peace Project as a “bogus” organization which was serving Harare’s western critics.

For a response from government to the charges, reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Zimbabwean Anti-Corruption Minister Paul Mangwana, who is also the acting minister of information.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Coordinator Jacob Mafume, also a human rights lawyer, said such discrimination would violate the African Charter on Human Rights.

Elsewhere, 21 families in Gandai, a village in Manicaland's Zimunya district, said they have been excluded from a grain distribution program for political reasons.

The families, all supporters of the political opposition, charge that they have been left off a list of beneficiaries of Grain Marketing Board distributions at the instructions of a ZANU-PF rural district councilor. The families said they have drawn up a complaint in the matter which they planned to send to Manicaland governor Tineyi Chigudu.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...