FEATURE-Zimbabwe hit by allegations of bias in food aid

Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:00am GMT

By Jeffrey Moyo

SEKE, Zimbabwe, Feb 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - W earing a torn shirt that hangs below his knees, 11-year-old Mirirai Gwauya sits under a tree near his home in eastern Zimbabwe eating wild fruits and reading aloud from an old primary school textbook.

The boy is grateful for the green sugar plums, which began sprouting in November and are now ready for plucking. They are often the only food he and his younger brother eat.

"There is no food at home. Wild fruits have become our meals," he said. "We endured going to school hungry for some time, but in the end we dropped out."

Zimbabwe's worst drought in 25 years has left more than 4 million people needing food aid during the peak of the lean season, which usually runs from January to the end of March.

The 2016 drought, which also withered crops in other southern African countries, has been particularly bad in Zimbabwe, where severe cash shortages have caused widespread food shortfalls and fuelled anti-government protests.

Heavy rains this month have inflicted additional damage, battering crops and threatening more hunger in rural areas amid complaints that Zimbabweans who oppose President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party are being denied assistance.

"There is food given to poor families here by the government but we have not been able to access it," Gwauya's mother, Sithela, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"ZANU-PF local leaders who lead most of the processes have barred my family from getting food aid because we are active members of the opposition MDC-T," she said.   Continued...

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