VILLAGE heads in Murehwa North constituency, Mashonaland East, continue to manipulate social welfare programs such as food aid meant for the vulnerable to force villagers to support the ruling party Zanu-Pf ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections scheduled for July 30.
These reports emerged when the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) held a workshop to train human rights defenders and deploy voter mobilisers at Murehwa Centre on Monday, June 11, 2018.
These violations are largely being driven by traditional leaders, especially village heads who appear reluctant to reform and have for a long time been partisan, although this is outlawed in the Constitution.
“They are saying each person must get receive food aid from their party president,” said one villager. “But we have all been affected by the drought. This is not fair.”
These allegations come even after the High Court has asked President of the Chief Council, Senator Fortune Charumbira, to retract his unconstitutional statements urging traditional leaders to support Zanu-PF, which had been challenged in court by the Elections Resource Centre (ERC).
One of the traditional leaders, who are mentioned in connection with politicisation of food aid has been identified as village head Chikomo in Ward 8 of Murehwa North constituency.
It emerged that each village head has been tasked to identify 10 households under their jurisdiction, who are in need of support so that they get 50kg of maize every month under the government’s social welfare programs, but the selection process has been soiled by partisan considerations.
In Ward 9 of the same constituency villagers said those, whose serial numbers were not collected by the traditional leaders – working together with the ruling party cell officials – have been omitted, or removed from beneficiaries of food aid.
Due to the bias towards supporters of the ruling party Zanu-PF, undeserving persons were rewarded with some of them shortly after selling the bags of maize or giving them as payment to needy families after doing piece jobs on their family plots.
In ward 30, an aspiring councillor, Obert Femai, has been accused of giving part of the food aid meant for the elderly to his campaign team.
The villagers have however said there is no violence recorded in the area ahead of the forthcoming harmonised elections which they said was a good development.
ZimRights has deployed voter mobilisers in Ward 8, 9, 10, 30 and 16 of Murehwa North constituency to encourage people to vote in peace.
Voter mobilisers will remind people in advance that campaigning on polling stations is illegal, party regalia is not allowed at polling stations, they need to know the time of opening and closing of polling stations, they need to know requirements for voting and since voting will be polling station-based, they need to know their polling stations ahead of time.