Zanu PF Chiredzi West legislator Farai Musikavanhu (Zanu PF) allegedly grabbed 13,4 tonnes of the subsidised roller meal from OK Triangle, while his Makoni Central counterpart David Tekeshe (MDC Alliance) is demanding involvement in the sales of the staple during the lockdown period.
Musikavanhu, who is not new to clashes with MDC supporters after he allegedly ordered Chiredzi Town Council to remove electric beds and other donations received from MDC Alliance losing MP aspirant John Manganye from the council hospital in June last year, distributed the mealie-meal to Zanu PF supporters.
Opposition supporters are pleading with Zanu PF leadership to rein in Musikavanhu. Last week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa issued a decree that restricts movement and gatherings in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Masvingo Zanu PF spokesperson Ronald Ndava distanced his party from the programme.
“This not a party programme. However, it’s an initiative that was done by our local leadership, MPs in particular. As Zanu PF, we have never sat down to plan how mealie-meal was going to be distributed in Chiredzi. So if there are issues with the programme, those are your contact persons for improvement or review,” he said.
In his latest message to councillors after the grab, Musikavanhu said: “Afternoon to you all councillors. Yesterday, we received 15 tonnes of mealie-meal at OK Triangle as Chiredzi District. Unfortunately, nine tonnes were sold before the taskforce could put a hold on the process.
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“From the reduced amount now available, Chiredzi West constituency has been allocated 13,4 tonnes, which is 1 340x10kg bags by the taskforce. I am setting aside 100 bags for people to buy direct from the constituency admin in the event of emergencies, especially funerals.
“The balance of 1 240 bags will be shared proportionally across all wards based on their population. Ward 18 will, however, only get 25% of their normal share, having benefited from the unauthorised sales at OK Triangle yesterday.”
Musikavanhu added: “The breakdown is as follows: Ward 1 (27), ward 2 (73), ward 3 (90), ward 4 (118), ward 5 (94), ward 6 (61), ward 7 (58), ward 8 (113), ward 18 (55), ward 19 (189), ward 27 (58), ward 28 (162) and ward 30 (147).
“Payment is to be made into the constituency EcoCash merchant account: *151x2x2x195081*amount# The amount will be $70 per 10kg bag. Ward committees shall administer the programme under the councillor’s supervision.
“The constituency manager is Cde Alphios Mugari, 0773227688. He will co-ordinate the merchant code payments and transport logistics in consultation with the mealie-meal taskforce team. We plan to make deliveries from early next week. I will inform you of the exact date.”
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) spokesperson Garikai Chaunza said there were selected millers that deal with subsidised mealie-meal not the association, and referred questions to the retailers association.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association president Denford Mutashu said they had not received any complaints or a directive to give mealie-meal to politicians.
“We have not received the complaint or directive. Mealie-meal is sold by the store that receives it to all customers regardless of political affiliation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tekeshe in Rusape has accused the government of sidelining him and his councillors in the sale of subsidised roller meal at each doorstep in the constituency.
Last week, police in Rusape had running battles with consumers who were lining up to buy mealie-meal, which is currently in short supply.
The government, police and retail shop bosses held an urgent meeting, where they decided to sell the staple at each doorstep.
Speaking to NewsDay yesterday, Tekeshe said: “The government, police and other stakeholders held a meeting and came up with a position, whereby they were going to sell mealie-meal at each doorstep. I was surprised because me and my fellow councillors were left out in the meeting.
“We started receiving information that some vulnerable people had been left in the exercise, which is bad. If they had consulted us, we could have come up some input.”