Samantha Chigogo Herald Correspondent
Corruption by provincial social welfare officers in the distribution of food aid is disadvantaging the growing number of vulnerable people waiting to be fed following successive droughts which hit the country, a senior Government official has said.
Addressing delegates at the strategic planning review workshop held in Zvimba yesterday, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira said social welfare officers should desist from any corruption-linked endeavours in the food mitigation process as that would attract strong disciplinary measures.
“I have heard of some people involved in unfair practices because we lack adequate funds for logistics, some people, social welfare officials, are making the vulnerable people pay for their transportation facilities which is not right at all and I do not want anyone from the ministry to be involved in disadvantaging these people,” she said.
“We should make sure that food is fairly distributed to all provinces and any dishonest activities will call for tight disciplinary measures. Individuals and institutions are facing serious food shortages and they are looking up to this ministry to save their souls.
“May I remind all of us that it is in times like these that our allegiance to our core values is tested.”
Minister Mupfumira said there was need for officials to remain professional, efficient, accountable, committed and at the same time empathetic in the face of limited resources versus an ever increasing number of needy clients.
“We need to be more vigilant and responsive to the calls from outside to make sure that the food mitigation process is carried out efficiently for the benefit of the majority,” she said.
“We cannot stand a situation where reports say some areas are in the worst situation of hunger when we know that grain is there, it only means that someone is not doing their job properly.
“We have set social welfare officers right to ward levels, so let’s use them to avoid outcries over extreme hunger. Provincial representatives should approach their people to ensure that each and every grain from our mitigation processes is valued to help the needy, hence you have a duty to make sure that all corners of the country benefit.”
Minister Mupfumira said officials should not mix politics with the administration of food aid.
“Let’s not use politics in wrong places to disturb the distribution of food aid at district and provincial levels,” she said. “Let political issues be done by us politicians and no one has the right to determine who gets the food aid and who doesn’t, the assistance is for everyone.
“Your duty is to make sure vulnerable people are helped, as it is right now, reports have been coming in from a particular district in Mashonaland West where we hear that there is a large misuse of food aid resources and in the end the vulnerable are failing to benefit from our schemes.
“We are in a crisis and the situation at hand does not require any headaches from politically oriented officials disturbing the administration of food aid.”
Recently, the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in the Midlands Province, Cde Jason Machaya, raised alarm over the abuse of food aid, saying thousands of vulnerable people in the province could face starvation following allegations of looting by Government officials tasked to distribute the food.