The opposition MDC-Alliance is evidently livid by the swift reaction rendered by Zanu-PF and Government to help those affected by Cyclone Idai cope with the tragedy. We notice that the opposition party has been eager to play political games with people’s lives right from the start of the disaster.
This was made evident by its leader Nelson Chamisa, who rushed to Chipinge, only to show the world that he had come to do exactly nothing about the disaster, except to politicise it.
Chamisa embarked on grand-standing overtures like riding an ox-drawn scotchcart across Birchenough Bridge and issuing a statement that was of no significance to the affected.
The opposition party leader shunned the most affected areas, preferring the periphery like Birchenough Bridge mainly because he considered himself too smart to walk through the mud where the real victims were.
Instead of outlining what his party was going to do to alleviate the disaster, Chamisa chose to blame the Cyclone Idai tragedy on Zanu-PF.
From then on, Chamisa withdrew from the disaster area, back to his comfortable office in Harare, and so did his party officials. Their few hours trip to Chipinge was a clear disaster in itself as it failed to achieve its intended purpose of portraying the opposition party as the most concerned.
In the meantime, the Zanu-PF Government was busy mobilising its effective machinery, which in no time descended on Chimanimani and Chipinge, with relief efforts starting in earnest.
From then on, the Zanu-PF Government has made life easier for the victims of Cyclone Idai by bringing in aid, opening new roads and rebuilding bridges for easy access to the devastated areas.
The above contrast between MDC-Alliance and Zanu-PF’s contribution to alleviating the effects of the disaster makes a mockery of the claims by the opposition party that there is politicisation of aid in the areas.
Chamisa and his ilk should mind their own business and stop peddling false accusations in a bid to prolong the suffering of the Cyclone Idai victims.
He knows quite well that his party’s misguided allegations on politicisation of aid are bound to scare away potential donors, with grave consequences for the people of Chimanimani and Chipinge.
What makes such allegations more superfluous is that they are being made by people who have not been able to initiate help for the victims, and are speaking from their offices in faraway Harare.
The MDC-Alliance did not respond to calls by the Civil Protection Unit to provide vehicles to carry food to the victims, and when Zanu-PF did, the opposition party started crying foul, accusing the ruling party of politicising aid.
It is now clear that the MDC-Alliance is just trying to spoil it for the victims, who do not care about the colour of the vehicle that carries aid to them.
Government has since dismissed the accusations of politicisation of aid, saying that is unthinkable in such a situation. It was actually proved that aid was reaching some strongholds of the MDC-Alliance like Ward 17 in the Biriiri area of Chimanimani, one of the hardest hit areas.
Politicisation of food aid is impossible because all the aid is being channelled through institutions like the provincial administrator’s office and the Department of Social Welfare, with the involvement of non-governmental organisations and donors themselves.
These established channels have been efficient in coordinating the distribution of aid to the affected, leaving no space for political parties to control the process.
International Rescue Committee country director for Zimbabwe Mr Paolo Cernuschi also made his own follow-ups and discovered that the distribution of aid was being done transparently.
It has been made clear to all interested in the happenings in Chimanimani and Chipinge that the MDC-Alliance’s allegations lack merit and cannot be taken seriously by those interested in seeing affected people getting relief.
On the contrary to such self-serving allegations by the opposition party, Zanu-PF has been working hard from day one to ensure that normalcy returns in all areas affected by Cyclone Idai.
What makes the allegations of politicisation of aid of more concern is that they are being made by people who are not on the ground and have no idea what exactly is taking place in Chimanimani and Chipinge.
Zanu-PF armchair critics, led by the MDC-Alliance, would not want to provide the paper trail of the looted goods as evidence that indeed looting and politicisation of food aid is taking place.
This leaves one with no doubt that the allegations of partisan distribution of food are meant to counter the overwhelming response Zanu-PF has made in providing relief to the affected.
The MDC-Alliance did not envisage the situation being stabilised within a few days, as it wanted to capitalise on the disaster for political gain.