Victoria Falls residents, MDC councillors row over Mnangagwa rice

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

VICTORIA FALLS residents are divided over distribution of rice allocated to rural constituency MPs by government after it emerged some greedy councillors diverted some bags of the special starch to their families and other undeserving individuals.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa allocated 15 tonnes of rice to each constituency after receiving the consignment from China last December with Matabeleland North getting 195 tonnes for 13 constituencies.

The rice is meant to supplement food for rural communities exposed to recurrent hunger caused by drought.

Hwange West constituency, which covers Victoria Falls, Ndlovu and parts of Jambezi got 300 bags of 50kg each.

MP Godfrey Dube shared the bags among councillors last week for redistribution to vulnerable people identified with the assistance of churches and the social welfare ministry.

The whole province has more than 750 000 vulnerable households, according to the social welfare department.

Initially, urban areas were not supposed to be included but Dube said he considered that some people were also vulnerable within towns.

Victoria Falls urban has 11 wards all dominated by the MDC Alliance.

Each ward was allocated 10 by 50kg bags each except for wards 1 which received five bags because it is a small community predominantly made up of the white community.

Ward nine and eleven received 14 and 17 bags respectively because they are big.

Rural wards were given 25 bags each while ward 19 got eight bags because it is smaller as it is made up of Zimparks and Forestry commission camps namely, Zambezi, Fuller Forest and Robbins camp.

However, Victoria Falls councillors are being accused of diverting the rice after many vulnerable people reportedly failed to access it.

Residents took to social media to vent their anger against ‘corrupt’ councillors while calling for investigation into the whole chaos.

They said they were fast losing confidence in the councillors.

“Some councillors allocated bags to themselves while some undeserving people were taking 10kg bags or more each.

“Those who diverted the rice should be arrested because the deserving beneficiaries didn’t get anything,” said a resident.

Added another resident: “We need proof that councillors gave the right people for accountability. The MP has accounted for his side; we want the same from councillors,” said another resident.

“Allocation was done above board and I think distribution is being done above board too,” said Dube adding that the list of beneficiaries will be made public.

“I gave all councillors under Hwange West and asked them to compile lists and each beneficiary was supposedly signing upon being given.”

Some residents said councillors had dummy lists of beneficiaries which were not being followed.

“This rice was not for Covid-19 as it was allocated under a different programme in December last year. However, as your MP, I decided that we also feed those in town instead of rural only hence I had to put the allocation under the Taskforce to help with transparency.

“We still keeping a little bit in stock in case the situation gets worse as we also continue to appeal for more donations for the taskforce. My advice however is that if you see any abuse of donated material quickly report,” said Dube.