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UN raises red flag over piling of food donations meant for Cyclone victims

Clayton Masekesa

MUTARE – The United Nations has raised concern over the continuous piling up of food donations in warehouses in the city of Mutare, while affected victims of Cyclone Idai are grappling with hunger in Chimanimani and Chipinge – areas where the tropical storm hit hardest.

Cyclone Idai three weeks ago swept through the areas, killing over 500 people, while others are still missing. The storm also left a trail of destruction of infrastructure.

This comes after growing concerns over the alleged looting of donations towards relief efforts for Cyclone Idai victims by Zanu PF party members in Manicaland.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Bishow Parajuli, said during a briefing with Manicaland Province Ellen Gwaradzimba there was no need to keep the food donations at a warehouse while many victims were desperate for food.

Hundreds of tonnes of food donations are piled up at a warehouse – Mutare Dryport – at the outskirts of the city centre.

“This (piling of food donations) might make us think that there are bureaucratic tendencies on the distribution of food. You (Minister Gwaradzimba) must know where, how and why you should distribute the food,” he said.

“There must be a way to distribute the food so that everyone affected has benefitted. We are very serious on these issues of humanitarian assistance. There is need to find ways, modalities and systems to make sure that the donations are sent to the deserving people in time,” Parajuli said.

Gwaradzimba made affirmations that the donations would be delivered to various destinations in time.

“I want to give assurance that the donations will be distributed to the victims in time and that they are in very safe hands. We will not distribute the donations on partisan lines. This is for everyone affected by the ctclone,” Gwaradzimba said.

Currently, there are alleged reports of Zanu PF members looting the donated goods for their personal gain, prejudicing the genuine victims who have been ravaged by Cyclone Idai.

Disturbing reports have revealed that the uncoordinated disbursement of donations towards relief efforts for Cyclone Idai victims had created gaps and loopholes, which were being manipulated by the corrupt Zanu PF members.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa also raised the red flag, following reports that donations and aid trickling into Chimanimani and Chipinge were being looted along the delivery chain. Mnangagwa warned that those caught corruptly benefiting from the donations would not be spared.

Zimbabweans both at home and abroad have joined hands in different ways and platforms pooling donations in the forms of cash, fuel, clothes and bedding.

Churches have amassed truckloads of food stuffs, political parties mainly Zanu PF and MDC have also rallied their supporters for donations towards relief efforts, but distribution has not been coordinated.

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