Zimbabwe: Food for votes

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Zanu PF, desparate to win the March 29 election at all costs has resorted to its tried and tested tactic of using food to buy votes. With the Southern African nation facing another drought, despite a good rainfall season, it is importing tonnes and tonnes of grain from neigbouring countries.

Malawi is one of them together with Zambia and South Africa. But instead of the grian being distributed to all needy Zimbabweans, Robert
Mugabe’s Zanu PF is using grain as a political tool to woo voters. Maize from Malawi is such a tool for Zanu PF. Withholding food from opponents is nothing new for the Zanu PF.

About 350 000 tonnes of maize imported from Malawi is been kept at Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots around the country. Six haulage trucks came through the Nyamapanda border post at the weekend from

Tendai Biti, Secretary General, Morgan Tsvangirai, of the Movement for Democratic Change faction says maize from Malawi is being distributed to Zanu PF supporters only instead to all Zimbabweans. “Maize sold by the Malawi government to Zimbabwe has not helped the people of the country fairly. It is being abused by distributing to the electorate countrywide.

“As opposition, if we take over power, we will have difficulties to pay the
Malawi government because they have played part in the political aggression by Mugabe and ZANU-PF. Malawi, itself is running short of maize and is rationing the grain nation-wide, exported 300 000 metric tonnes of maize to Zimbabwe and is yet to fulfil a 100,000 metric tonnes export to cover the required 400,000 Mt.

Senior officials at the GMB depot in Harare confirm that close to 200,000
tonnes of maize is ready to be dispatched for Mugabe’s campaign. It has also been established that depots in Karoi, Murehwa, Bindura, Chegutu and Marondera have been hoarding stocks.

However, defiant Mugabe told his supporters on Saturday that his party would win the elections “resoundingly” and he was ready for a fight with
those who criticised his presidency.

Malawi leader Bingu Mutharika who has Bineth, a personal farm in Zimbabwe, signed the contractual agreement with the Zimbabwe Government that offered a US$10 million line of credit. In Karoi, John Mafa, a senior ruling ZANU PF party politician has directed GMB to sell maize-meal through councillors. All are members of his party.

Mafa, a chairman of ZANU PF in Mashonaland West province under which Karoi falls and is also provincial GMB manager, confirmed ordering the company to sell the staple food through ward councillors. He said the move was not meant to buy support for ZANU PF but rather to ensure
that all hungry people got a chance to buy cheaper priced maize-meal from the GMB.

”Councillors have well known structures so that undeserving elements in the wards cannot take advantage of our sincerity. We have many people who are just cropping up in these wards but councillors know who is who there and who deserves what,” he said.

Mafa, insists that everyone would get a chance to buy maize-meal regardless of which party they supported. MDC officials in Karoi say ZANU PF councilors are busy compiling lists of people to receive maize-meal during campaign meetings of the ruling party, leaving supporters of the opposition in the cold. MDC provincial treasurer Biggie Haurobi said ”Our members are being denied maize-meal by ruling party councillors as the lists are drawn up during their ward party rallies,”

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