THE donor community is demanding clarification from Zimbabwe of the government’s new policy on food distribution, without which the country risks losing much-needed supplies
Diplomatic sources that attended a donor meeting this week in South Africa said Zimbabwe should explain its new policy as soon as possible.
“Donors have asked for clarification as quickly as possible, otherwise there is a strong possibility that capitals may withhold funding,” a diplomat said.
“This could have dire consequences for the people of Zimbabwe as it takes several months to get food aid into the country from the time a donor makes a pledge.”
Two weeks ago government ordered relief agencies to surrender food aid to village headmen for distribution to needy communities, directly violating earlier promises by President Robert Mugabe to the World Food Programme that the agencies would be allowed to operate independently.
The diplomat said donors reiterated that the system of food aid distribution that had been in place prior to this new policy had been satisfactory and that it would be a serious mistake to make changes now.
“Donors strongly supported the urgent need for WFP to sign a memorandum of understanding with the government that ensures food aid distribution cannot be subject to political manipulation,” he said.