MDC Women’s Assembly deplores partisan food distribution

No to partisan food distribution

The MDC Women Assembly feels heavily disheartened by the hunger that has bedeviled and gripped the country.

As the women’s leadership of the party, we are in solidarity with every citizen of Zimbabwe and express our displeasure with the government of ZANU PF that is engaged in a needless and senseless campaign to distribute food on partisan lines.

We feel that a government with people at heart, was supposed to take measures to mitigate hunger before a sustained onslaught of starvation ravaged the people and their livestock. While the hunger is being attributed to the effects of El Nino, we strongly believe that if the ZANU PF government was efficient and effective, it should have taken decisive plans before hunger befell the people.

The Assembly of Women is convinced that the ZANU PF government has failed to provide food to all Zimbabwean citizens regardless of political affiliation, when in fact food is everyone’s right. Section77 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe gives the State the obligation to provide food. It is therefore the responsibility of government to provide food security to every citizen across the political divide.

Currently, in most parts of the country, people are struggling to make ends meet and provide a decent meal to their families, with others reported to be fighting for wild fruits. The deteriorating socio economic conditions in this country have seen multiple rights being violated As a result of inadequate food supplies, diseases are increasing, especially malnutrition to the children, thereby violating their right to health.

The Assembly of Women is outraged by the partisan distribution of food aid by the Zanu PF government and some of its partisan headmen and chiefs. This has been very prevalent in most areas of the country.

As mothers, wives and grandmothers, the effects of the partisan distribution of food aid has hit us hard in our households .Our children are failing to access food, education and jobs. As such this has led to emotional distress among many women in Zimbabwe at a time when we are expected to be stepping up towards achieving sustainable development goals.

The Assembly of Women strongly condemns such practices and would like the government to at least uphold both the dictates of the Constitution and the cultural spirit of empathy. The issues of gender discrimination during the partisan distribution cannot go unnoticed at a time when the world is making serious strides towards gender equality. As an Assembly we demand the immediate end to gross and multiple violations of people’s rights to access food aid.

Cognizant of all the political , economic and social woes presided over by ZANU PF in the past thirty years in its power, the MDC government led by Morgan Tsvangirai will ensure that people have access to an efficient, effective, competent and a responsive government that respects people’s rights, promote equity and equality and provide opportunities that would make people realize their full potential in different spheres of life.

Lynette Karenyi
MDC Assembly of Women National Chairperson
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Statement on the reinstatement of Gweru councilors

The High Court of Zimbabwe

The MDC welcomes the ruling handed down by High Court Judge, Justice Francis Bere in Bulawayo on Monday, February 22, 2016.

The High Court ruled that the suspension of Gweru City Councilors by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Savior Kasukuwere in August 2015 was unconstitutional and the subsequent appointment of a Commission to run the City is null and void. The learned Judge also ruled that the suspensions were a direct violation of the Constitution.

Under the devolution clauses of the new Constitution, the Minister of Local Government no longer has the power to arbitrarily order either the suspension nor the dismissal of an elected Councilor. This is in terms of Sections 264, 276 and 278 of the Constitution. According to Section 2 of the Constitution, the Constitution is supreme law of Zimbabwe and any law, practice, custom or conduct inconsistent with it is invalid to the extent of the inconsistency.

Section 278 provides for the secure tenure of seats of members of Local authorities. The section provides for two (2) ways of removing a Mayor, Chairperson or Councilor from office. The first is under section 278 (1) which is through a recall process similar to that which applies to Members of Parliament and the second is under section 278 (2) which provides that an Act of Parliament must provide for the establishment of an independent Tribunal to exercise the function of removing from office Mayors, Chairpersons and Councilors.

None of these methods was used in the case of Gweru, instead the Minister set up a Committee of inquiry composed of officials who were clearly instructed to establish grounds to suspend the MDC run Council. The Committee carried out the so-called investigation, forcing Councilors to attend their own hearings. This partisan committee produced a report that was then used as a basis for suspending all 13 Councilors.

Those functions are now supposed to be carried out by an independent Tribunal. Once the Tribunal is established then it is the Tribunal and not the Minister who will have the authority and the responsibility of such actions and even then only on certain prescribed grounds.

The days of unbridled authority in the hands of the Minister are over and especially when they involve politically motivated minor allegations against democratically elected Councils. The MDC would like to bring to the attention of the Minister, his senior staff, Provincial Ministers, Provincial and District Administrators that they can no longer issue directives and instructions to Local Authorities. Their instructions include rescinding resolutions made by Councils. All of these actions by the central Government are now unconstitutional because Section 276 which provides for the functions of local authorities stipulates that … “a local authority has the right to govern, on its own initiative, the local affairs of the people within the area for which it has been established….”

In that regard the Minister therefore has absolutely no role in the day to day administration of Local authorities, he should therefore accept that Local Authorities now have devolved power and are no longer subject to directives from the Ministry. To add on to that Section 274 (2) clearly states that Urban “Local Authorities are managed by Councils composed of councilors elected by registered voters in the urban areas concerned and presided over by elected mayors or chairpersons…. “

The MDC therefore urges the Minister and his staff to limit their deficient Local Government management skills to the facilitation of increased funding for all local Authorities so that they can fulfill their new mandate at their own initiative.

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