ZAPU denounces politicised drought relief

ZAPU has called on the government to re-introduce the school feeding programme when schools open for the second term, citing the ongoing drought.

The revolutionary party also condemned the politically motivated distribution of drought relief, warning they would challenge such actions.

“As you are aware, there is drought this year, so the government must embark on school feeding programmes to ensure children remain in school without being affected by food shortages,” said ZAPU National Organiser, Ndodana Moyo.

According to Moyo, hunger in schools also impacts children’s academic performance. “Therefore, the government must intervene and provide supplementary food so that children are taken care of during this drought, especially those in rural areas who walk long distances to and from school with little or no food,” he said.

He added that children living with disabilities also need to be prioritized and given food parcels. The feeding program should also be extended to urban areas. “Limited income and high prices strain household buying power,” Moyo said. “This affects what children carry to school, with some only having a slice of bread.”

The ZAPU official urged the government to consider this proposal especially as the country heads towards winter, a season where people consume more. “Some people may brush this aside, but not everyone in the country can afford decent meals for their families. As we speak, some people survive on one meal a day. Just because others are spending money at food outlets does not mean that situation applies to everyone,” he said.

Moyo also noted that hungry children are vulnerable to exploitation. “Let’s strive to protect our children and prevent them from entering dangerous situations,” he cautioned. “The government must make sure children are well-catered for, fed, and protected.”

Moyo emphasized that when the government implements the school feeding program, it should not be partisan. “Considering the government’s track record, we may hear that schools in certain areas are receiving food while others are not. This government must act collectively,” he said.

ZAPU presidential spokesperson, Patron Nketha, weighed in, saying the El Niño-induced drought will make 2024 a challenging year for Zimbabwe and other parts of Southern Africa. He expressed concern about Zanu PF using food aid to coerce people into supporting the party.

“Those outside Zanu PF risk starvation as the ruling party is hellbent on using food aid to coerce people into supporting its ruinous policies,” he said, citing recent press reports where Zanu PF chairperson for Midlands Edson Chiherenge said at a party meeting that those who are not members of the ruling party would not receive food aid.

Nketha said these discriminatory practices should be condemned and legally challenged.

“ZAPU will act on behalf of any communities denied food aid by Zanu PF or their government agents. Government aid is drawn from all of us as taxpayers and from free assistance rendered by international aid organizations. Therefore, it is not the prerogative of Zanu PF to decide who gets drought relief based on party affiliation,” he said.

“Zimbabwe is the sum of its citizens. People’s lives matter, far more than the narrow interests of any political party. ZAPU stands with the people against partisan drought relief.”

ZAPU previously implored the government to declare the 2023/2024 farming a national disaster, claiming thousands of farmers are losing their crops, resulting in severe drought conditions in the country, necessitating massive interventions.

Meanwhile, last week in Parliament, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, July Moyo claimed his ministry would collaborate with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to embark on school feeding programmes.

“We are also going to be working hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries, and Rural Development to get all the necessary details about food security in the country. We do not want to leave anyone behind in terms of food provision this year,” he said, claiming there were 2.7 million people  under the Government feeding scheme, which included children.

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