The Government and Law Enforcement Agents Should Urgently Deal With Corruption in the Distribution and Politicisation of Food Aid in Zimbabwe

The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) is gravely concerned by an increase in the number of cases of corruption in the distribution of food aid in most parts of Zimbabwe. It is becoming increasingly clear that the majority of the people responsible for the distribution of food aid are diverting the same for personal gain at the expense of deserving beneficiaries such as the elderly, the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) and other underprivileged sectors of society. In one day on the 18th of February 2020, ACT-SA received reports that community leaders, traditional leaders and members of Social Welfare Committees (SWCs) responsible for the distribution of food aid in Silobela, Savana, Marivale and Zhombe in Kwekwe are accused of diverting food aid for sale as well as putting in place stringent conditions that make it difficult for the poor to access food aid. Mr. Obert Chinhamo, the Director of ACT-SA has called upon the government and the law enforcement agents to intervene as a matter of urgency.

“This is a very serious issue that demands the urgent intervention of the respective authorities in Zimbabwe, especially when the country is facing drought in the affected areas. The Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the Commissioner-General of Police and their teams should urgently take action to save the poor from starvation. I have heard that unscrupulous elements that include Parliamentarians, Councillors, traditional leaders and members of what are called Social Welfare Committees who are diverting the food for personal gain. The case of the Gokwe Member of Parliament who was recently nabbed is not surprising but serves as a microcosm of a problem affecting most parts of the country. Urgent action is needed” he says.

Mr. Chinhamo urged members of the public to report all cases of corruption in the food aid distribution chain to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Furthermore, he urged the de-politicisation of the food aid distribution exercise.

“I am urging members of the public to report all cases of corruption in the distribution of food aid to ZACC and the police. Furthermore, there are increasing complaints that most of those who distribute aid are politicians. We need individuals who are neutral.” he says.

In Silobela and at Jekiseni Shopping Centre in Ward 23, it is alleged that maize meant for the poor is being sold by known people who are supplied by individuals responsible for food aid distribution in the area. In the same area, the local Councillor’s Secretary is allegedly demanding upfront payments of $45 for transport which the majority of the elderly and the poor are failing to pay. All those failing to pay are denied the food aid thereby leaving them stranded and hungry. The food meant for those failing to pay finds its way to the market. At Marivale in Kwekwe, it is alleged that the members of the Social Welfare Committee repack the maize bags during the night and reduce the contents which they allegedly divert to the market. Again, the Committee demands money for transport which is never accounted for with all those failing to pay being deprived. Under Ward 30 in Kwekwe, it is alleged that there are known selling points for stolen maize. In Zhombe at St. Andrews, ACT-SA alerted the Department of Social Welfare in Kwekwe which did not take any action.

That said, ACT-SA is calling upon the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the Commissioner-General of Police and their teams should urgently intervene and arrest the culprits. In addition, the government should ensure that the food aid distribution exercise is not politicised. Politicians who are part of the distribution chain should be removed and replaced by non-political officials.

Source: Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-Southern Africa)