By Robert Tapfumaneyi
A STUDY has shown that despite government’s efforts to put in place several food and nutrition policies, setting up institutional frameworks to facilitate food and nutrition security, food self-sufficiency remains elusive for millions in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) and Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum who produced the reports, recommended civil society should advocate legislation which criminalises infringements on the right to food so that perpetrators could either be prosecuted or sued for damages in their personal capacity as well as their institutions.
The report titled ‘The Politics of Food: A Contextual Analysis of the Distribution of Food Aid in Zimbabwe said it was a paradox that the same government making significant financial and institutional investments into agricultural production was also being accused of enabling the politicisation of food aid.
“Nonetheless, there are opportunities for reforming the food aid distribution system and ensuring that said processes are transparent, participatory, non-discriminatory, democratic and anchored in human rights,” study results said.
“The policies and frameworks are already in place and what is needed is adherence, compliance and enforcement at all levels.”
The study has also shown that the right to food cannot be viewed in isolation as the realisation of that right was dependent on a broad range of socioeconomic and political factors.
“The right to food is equally tied to other civil and political rights such as the right to free political association, freedom of expression, the right to vote for a political party or candidate of one’s choice, etc,” it said.
“It is therefore key for rights-focused Civil Society Organisations and humanitarian NGOs to work closely together to ensure that the right to food is protected and guaranteed across the board.”
The two organisations have recommended rights-based CSOs should work closely with humanitarian NGOs to advocate for reforms of the food aid distribution matrix.
“Particularly emphasizing the need to adhere to set standards and principles on the non-politicisation and non-discrimination of food aid distribution,” says the report.
“Civil society should intensify its advocacy efforts in relation to the depoliticisation of traditional leadership institutions so that they do not continue to infringe on the right to food.
“Civil society should advocate for the depoliticization of rural administration so that developmental programmes in rural areas, which include food aid distribution and farming input support, are not captured by the partisan interests of a single political party.
“Civil society should monitor, support and strengthen the work of rural development institutions such as VIDCOs, WADCOs, WDDRC, Food Distribution Committees, RDDC, DDRCs etc so that developmental interventions are non-discriminatory and non-partisan.”
The report further said civil society should demand the desecuritization of rural administration towards dismantling structures of violence and intimidation, demobilize militias and groups involved in political violence and intimidation, and removing state security agents from influencing rural administration along partisan lines.