By Bulawayo Correspondent
VILLAGERS in the drought-hit Bhalula area in Matabeleland South last Thursday reportedly received rotten maize sourced from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) under the Government’s food aid programme.
Matabeleland province is one of the drought hardest hit regions in the country forcing most villagers in these drought-prone areas to rely on the international donor community and government for food aid.
However, the drought experienced this year, has been one of the worst in living memory and over eight million people are in need of food aid.
Some villagers who spoke to New Zimbabwe.com confirmed that they received the rotten grain from the State-run GMB.
“I and my neighbour received a 50 Kg bag of maize which we were told to share. It was brownish in colour and a strange smell. The maize had also sand particles,” said one villager who refused to be named for fear of victimisation.
He said hundreds of villagers in the area had also received similar grain and due to hunger they had no option, but were forced to mill it into maize meal.
“We did not have any choice my brother. We took the maize out of desperation. Some people have tried to sieve the maize while others are consuming it as it is,” he added.
He said the maize was best for stock-feed consumption than to be distributed to villagers to consume.
MDC Alliance National Chairperson, Tabitha Khumalo also confirmed that her party had received complaints from villagers in Bhalula about receiving contaminated maize.
“We are worried about reports of contaminated maize which Bhalula villagers received from government as food aid. We think this is a deliberate move otherwise how can a whole government use scarce resources to transport bad maize from wherever it came from without realising that it is rotten. This issue should be investigated,” said Khumalo.
She said as am MP, she was going to raise the issue with the relevant ministers in Parliament.
“I am going to definitely raise this issue in Parliament. We cannot treat our people like this. They deserve to be treated as human beings and not animals,” said a fuming Khumalo.
A recent report released by the Civil Society Monitoring Mechanism also revealed receiving similar complaints from beneficiaries of government maize in Chinhoyi, Mhangura and Banket.
Efforts to get a comment from GMB officials in Bulawayo and Harare where unsuccessful.