Local officials hindering delivery of Zimbabwe food assistance

By Patience Rusere

Washington 17 November 2008 - Though Zimbabwe's food crisis is deepening daily, non-governmental organizations involved in the distribution of assistance continue to face obstruction by local authorities from whom they must obtain letters of clearance to hand out food aid, say sources informed on conditions.

Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition Advocacy Officer Gladys Hlatshwayo said NGOs are at times refused such letters, complicating efforts to provide aid to the hungry. She said contacts with villagers indicate that such problems are widespread and worsening the crisis.

Hlatshwayo said this had been a particular problem with ZANU-PF members of parliament and district council members in the Makoni district of Manikaland province.

The government banned most distribution of food and other humanitarian aid by NGOs between June and August of this year, accusing such groups of promoting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the June presidential run-off election.

Elsewhere, Zimbabweans being expelled from Botswana through Plumtree border post are being provided with food aid to help them resettle in Zimbabwe, as Martin Ngwenya reports.