Government has banned political parties from any interference with the distribution of food and other forms of aid to Cyclone Idai survivors in parts of Manicaland.
Responding to questions from senators in the upper house Tuesday, Local Government Minister July Moyo said the catastrophe which killed nearly 179 people with hundreds still missing requires all Zimbabweans to work together.
“In that, anybody who has transport system and going to that area, should surely carry something.
“Unfortunately, if people end up carrying something with a car written Zanu PF, then it becomes grabbing,” he said.
The ban comes after an outcry by villagers that ruling Zanu PF Chimanimani West MP, Nokuthula Matsikenyere, party councillors and youths were distributing food items on partisan lines at the expense of the rest.
Minister Moyo said with immediate effect, no political party activists were going to distribute food items, water and medicines, among the forms of aid, as some of those entrusted to do the job had bad intentions.
“I assure that we do not allow any political interference in the distribution of food; but we have Chimanimani East MP Joshua Sacco who has shown great leadership qualities even if he is a member of a political party. No one has done what this member has done.
“Now we have concluded that from now onwards, nobody takes any food even if we are under pressure. Let us not go beyond what has happened…”
Moyo added, “It might have happened, but we have given instructions that no one gets any food when they are identifying themselves as a political party. Unfortunately, the cars they were using were of a political party.”
Media reports were awash with the news of food grabbing by persons moving in Zanu PF branded vehicles over the weekend, eliciting complaints from the public which felt President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s party was riding on the plight of Cyclone victims to score cheap political points.
The minister admitted that some of the donations might have been taken by vehicles with Zanu PF logos.
He said this was unacceptable.
According to the Zanu PF official, government will now be liaising with Civil Protection Unit (CPU), police, army and UN agencies and other reputable organisations or companies to make sure that all donations go to the deserving people.
Cyclone Idai caused by intense tropical storms killed more than 179 people while 329 others are still missing with almost 7 000 families left homeless.
The death toll is expected to rise as more bodies are still buried in mud and rubble.
The catastrophe galvanised a local and international effort to donate tonnes of material aid to the victims.