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Zimbabwe Ruling Party Officials Accused of Exploiting Rural Hunger

Zimbabwean opposition officials in Manicaland province have accused ruling party officials in Buhera district of using political influence to buy maize from the state monopoly Grain Marketing Board, then selling it to starving villagers at exorbitant prices.

The Movement for Democratic Change said ZANU-PF officials have forced villagers to part with their livestock in exchange for small quantities of maize.

The state-run Herald newspaper Wednesday reported that Buhera villagers are appealing for urgent food aid following a prolonged dry spell. It quoted a local chief as urging the government to monitor maize distribution so all residents will benefit.

VOA was unable to obtain comment from local ZANU-PF officials on the allegations.

MDC Manicaland spokesman Pishai Muchauraya told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that five people died of starvation in the Makoni South constituency, adding that the government must rescind a June ban on non-governmental organization distribution of food assistance to prevent further deaths from malnutrition.

Meanwhile, a source in Binga, Matabeleland North, said some residents of the Nsenga area are close to death due to the lack of food. That source said local residents are waiting in line for days to buy maize meal, but the supplies are insufficient to meet the needs of all.

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