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UN Food Chief Morris Warns Harare Against Politicizing Food Aid

World Food Program chief executive James Morris, completing a Southern African tour before he steps down at the end of the year, told journalists in Johannesburg that he warned Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe that the WFP would not tolerate political interference with its food aid programs or official guidance on who to help.

Morris had meetings in Harare on Monday with Mr. Mugabe, Labor and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche, Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa, and leaders of various civil society organizations.

Benedict Nhlapho of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported from Johannesburg that Morris said his organization has instituted safeguards against political interference.

Opposition parties and civic activists have often accused Harare of politicizing food by using its distribution to reward friends and punish opponents. WFP food assistance is channeled through nongovernmental organizations such as Christian Care, minimizing the risk of political interference though government approvals must be obtained.

Elsewhere, the Grain Marketing Board urged wheat farmers to deliver their produce to its depots regardless of its condition, amid reports that persistent rains have destroyed most of the winter wheat crop. The GMB said Tuesday it would resume payments to wheat farmers after an emergency injection of Z$4 billion (US$16 million) by the Ministry of Finance into the national grain monopoly's depleted coffers.

Political analyst Glen Mpani, based in Cape Town, South Africa, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Harare is purchasing sub-standard wheat to appease mostly ruling party supporters who borrowed money to plant winter wheat.

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