Don’t exploit El Niño crisis: Zanu PF

Earlier this month, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the country needed US$2 billion to avert starvation.

THE ruling Zanu PF party has warned some individuals and organisations not to offer food assistance under the guise of aid in a bid to facilitate regime change, particularly in light of the El Niño-induced drought affecting Zimbabwe.

Earlier this month, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the country needed US$2 billion to avert starvation.

Zimbabwe faces a tough hurdle to mobilise resources from donor agencies and development partners, with two sister countries in the region — Zambia and Malawi — having also declared a state of disaster, exerting pressure on a shrinking cake due to global challenges.

Writing in the State-owned local newspaper, Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu warned against the exploitation of humanitarian crises for political gain.

“The El Niño-induced drought presents an interesting scenario. Whenever such situations arise, some people might present themselves as saviours and offer a helping hand in the form of the so-called ‘aid’. Often, this aid is used to disguise a nefarious agenda ...” he said.

“There are usual suspects, whose proposed aid will be attached to certain conditions. They usually deploy their usual antics to try and smuggle in a political agenda.”

Mpofu accused some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in the country of attempting to sway people under the guise of providing aid, labelling them proxies of the country’s detractors.

“It’s not a secret that more often than not, aid has been used to fulfil nefarious agendas and, in the most extreme of cases, to even facilitate regime change.

“A number of non-governmental organisations operating in Zimbabwe are proxies of our detractors. They will smuggle in a political agenda and sway our people. They will unashamedly try to use ‘food aid’ to have our people betray their cause,” he said.

Added Mpofu: “However, chances of them succeeding are slim ... This is why the government of Zimbabwe has come up with the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill to guard against such malicious activities and regulate the operations of such organisations.”

The attack on the NGOs and civil society organisations (CSOs) comes in the wake of a major push by Zanu PF to have the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill enacted to regulate the operations of these organisations.

The Bill has been condemned as undemocratic by many commentators.

Zanu PF said the Bill was necessary to whip into line the NGOs and CSOs that it accuses of pushing a regime change agenda.

The party said NGOs had nothing to offer towards Zimbabwe’s development agenda.

Zimbabwe has lost more than 9 000 cattle to drought, with over 1,4 million reported to be at high risk due to lack of pastures and water, according to United States Agency for International Aid’s food security arm.

The current El Niño-induced drought saw Zimbabwe and other southern African countries suffering a record dryness and high temperatures in February, resulting in severe moisture stress, reduced harvest potential and crop failure.

It is anticipated that Zimbabwe will have significantly below average harvests across the country, negatively impacting food access and crop sales.

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