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By Tim Chigodo
FOLLOWING the MDC's heavy defeat in the Insiza parliamentary by-election, the issue of politicisation of food aid has been resuscitated in a bid to discredit the resurgence of the ruling Zanu-PF.
If it is not food aid, it is violence or intimidation that makes the opposition MDC lose elections.
The devastating drought that hit Zimbabwe had provided the opposition and its international handlers an opportunity to influence voters to support the MDC.
However, this backfired in Insiza when ruling Zanu-PF youths allegedly confiscated some of the food aid and distributed it themselves forcing the World Food Programme to suspend its operations in that area.
The questions being asked by most Zimbabweans is that if the WFP sometimes distributes food in war situations surely it couldn't have been bothered by such an isolated incident.
What effect were the donors expecting by their pullout of food aid from Insiza a few days from the elections? Was this incident enough justification to let people die of hunger if the food shortage was that critical?
Judging by the statistics of both the presidential and parliamentary elections, the opposition MDC's support base is mostly in the urban areas and rural Matabeleland.
The majority of the MDC followers in the urban areas do not require any food aid because they are workers and can therefore afford to buy their own food.
In rural Matabeleland, where the MDC has been enjoying tremendous support until recently, the bulk of the WFP food aid has been channelled there. There are no reports of starvation in Matabeleland.
If the government was so vindictive, why would it feed people who voted against it or allow the food aid agencies to prioritise rural Matabeleland instead of favouring the people of Mashonaland who voted for the ruling Zanu-PF?
Investigations by the European Union and the United Nations on the politicisation of food aid have failed to come up with a single case of food politicisation and this is on record.
Some organisations like the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) have started to denounce the international community for politicising food aid in Zimbabwe in a bid to demonise the ruling Zanu-PF government.
The service organ of the Evangelical Lutheran Church has expressed alarm at what it called "unacceptable" delay in delivering international humanitarian food aid to Zimbabweans. It also condemned any use of humanitarian assistance as a political tool to frustrate the Government.
A recent LWF council underscored the urgent need for delivery of food aid in Southern Africa and called on the international community to act swiftly to alleviate food shortages and save lives in the region, especially in Zimbabwe and the surrounding countries.
Out of the 12 million people threatened with starvation in southern Africa, half of them are in Zimbabwe.
This followed disclosures by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe that there had been political problems with the distribution of food in the country.
Some non-governmental organisations had been using aid to influence political events in the country.
A pastor of the church in Zimbabwe Rev Ishmael Noko told a week long programme committee for world service held in Wittenberg, Germany, that there had been political problems in Zimbabwe with the distribution of food.
He said the church should commit itself to support the disadvantaged people and stop being partisan in giving assistance.
He urged the LWF standing committee on international affairs and human rights and the programme committee for world service to be committed and promote principles of international humanitarian law regarding aid assistance.
Director of the LWF department for world service, Mr Robert Granke, said there was an urgent need to get seeds and tools to the new farmers in Zimbabwe and others in the region as a whole. "Concerted effort must be made to bring this need to the attention of LWF member churches because their contribution in southern Africa is lagging," he said.
The LWF official said the land question in Africa was a fundamental human rights issue that should be addressed to restore dignity among Africans.
Mr Granke said land must be shared to enable all people to access the natural resource.
Some of the NGOs have used their aid to Zimbabwe to decampaign the country's agrarian revolution.
This has forced the Government to censure voluntary movements operating in the country.
The British Government through its High Commissioner in Zimbabwe, Mr Brian Donnelly, has been using food handouts to influence results of elections.
The latest incident was at the recently ended parliamentary by-election in Insiza where the British diplomat was caught red handed while trying to influence distribution of maize meal to people so that they could vote for the opposition MDC.
The World Food Programme (WFP) suspended delivery of food aid to Insiza where the ruling Zanu-PF party defeated the MDC in a parliamentary by-election. WFP spokesman in Zimbabwe Mr Luis Clemmens claimed his organisation had taken the move because of alleged violence and thefts of food aid, allegations police have denied.
Observers have however, wondered why a humanitarian organisation like the WFP should let people starve because of its political differences with the Government.
Its concern should be to feed starving people in the country.
Besides sponsoring and financing the MDC and other non-governmental organisations like the Amani Trust to oust President Mugabe, Britain, the United States and the European Union have not hidden their dislike for the Zimbabwean leader for embarking on the equitable land redistribution exercise.
The Tony Blair government has sought to replace Cde Mugabe with MDC's Mr Morgan Tsvangirai through unorthodox means, including violence and terrorism.
Britain and its allies have caused temporary economic dislocations to force the Government to abandon the land reform programme, which has already been successfully concluded.
Zimbabwe's economic path runs counter to Western efforts to integrate the economies of the region in the interest of capitalist interests.
Mr Blair wants the gross imbalance imposed by colonialists to be accepted as a natural order in Zimbabwe, with the indigenous people laying no claim to their land.
The Government's fast-track land reform exercise is intended to rectify this anomaly and ensure a more equitable distribution of land.
Another religious organisation, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has blamed Britain for reneging on its obligation to fund Zimbabwe's land reform programme.
The group's general secretary, Rev Konrad Raiser said Britain should keep its promise and implement the 1979 Lancaster House constitutional conference agreement that led to the country's independence in 1980.
He said the WCC would engage Zimbabwean and British churches to lobby collectively for the programme's support.
"The British should own up to what they agreed on at the 1979 Lancaster House Conference, " Rev Raiser said.
The LWF Germany meeting noted that globalisation was an ambiguous phenomenon that has caused more harm than good, especially in the Third World countries. Globalisation had been credited with the expansion of commercial transactions across national borders, but creating wealth disparities.
"The opening up of new market opportunities for local and national producers has increased wealth for some. The problem is the distribution of these benefits. They are biased in favour of the powerful economic actors," the delegates observed.
Globalisation had negative effects because it lacked structures of regulation and accountability.
The democratic deficit was too conspicuous, referring to the G8 Group annual meetings, where decisions were routinely taken that affect lives of every person on the planet.
The churches have not been spared by the consequences of globalisation.
Many churches in the developing countries have been rendered economically weak.
The process has bred a sense of insecurity and discontent because people were fearful that governments, corporate institutions and international organisations did not care about them.
on a vigorous campaign to promote children's rights, enhance conflict resolution and combat female genital mutilation.
The 49 council members who attended the meeting resolved to work with other churches and related agencies to denounce all forms of violence and exploitation of the disadvantaged.
The meeting noted that children were at risk of abduction and recruitment as child soldiers, abuse and poverty.
Delegates undertook to promote healthy lives, provide quality education to children and protect them from abuse, exploitation and any form of violence.
The council stressed the need for peaceful ways to end conflict other than by use of arms.
The meeting was hosted by the German national committee of the LWF.
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