Villagers accuse Mandipaka of politicising food aid

Buhera West MP Oliver Mandipaka has been accused by villagers of leading the politicisation of food aid distribution in his constituency.


During a public dialogue meeting on the new constitution held by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) in Buhera West, Ward 5 last week, villagers expressed concern that supporters of the MDC-T as well as suspected sympathisers of former Vice President Joice Mujuru were being targeted.

They said Mandipaka had directed that food aid would only be distributed during Zanu (PF) meetings that perceived “Gamatox” sympathizers and MDC-T supporters were barred from attending.

Earlier this month, Mandipaka distributed rice sourced from China to villagers in his constituency and scores of people were allegedly excluded from benefiting due to their political affiliation.

“The MP has directed that those who want food aid should attend Zanu (PF) meetings but the problem now is that MDC-T supporters as well as those suspected to be loyal to Mai Mujuru are being barred from attending these events where the food would be distributed,” said Paul Makuvise, a former MDC-T Councillor for Ward 5.

“There is also a lot of corruption associated with the distribution of the rice and Zanu (PF) heavies in the constituency are benefiting from this,” he said.

The villagers identified one Albert Chikukwa, Phone Katiza and Mugove Magwanda as leading the politicization of food aid in Buhera West. Another villager, who refused to be named for fear of victimisation, said her family had been left staring hunger in the face as politicisation of food aid in the area intensified.

“We are grateful that platforms like these ones have given us the chance to speak out against the ills that are happening in this area. We are appealing to the authorities to make sure this is addressed because a lot of people stand to suffer,” she said.

CiZC Programmes Manager Nixon Nyikadzino said civil society organisations were concerned that food continued to be distributed along partisan lines when the country was facing an acute food shortage.

He said politicisation of food aid was in violation of the constitution and implored the government to ensure that it provided for all citizens regardless of political affiliation.

“By politicising food aid, the state is actually not taking its responsibility of providing for its citizens. Buhera is one of the areas that recorded poor harvests and people are already in dire need of food aid. Our main concern is that the state is failing to distinguish between electoral processes and matters of the stomach.

“The state should be responsible for taking care of its citizens despite their political affiliation and they should uphold the constitution by ensuring that every citizen is taken care of. We are extremely concerned about continued politicization of food aid,” said Nyikadzino.

Mandipaka was unavailable for comment.

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