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San community on the verge of starvation

BULAWAYO — A hunger-stricken San community in Tsholotsho is demanding from Zanu PF leadership in Matabeleland maize-meal that was donated to it by the late Vice-President, John Nkomo before his death early this year.

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

Nkomo donated 100 10kg bags of maize-meal to the starving San community through the office of Matabeleland North governor, Sithokozile Mathuthu last year but that donation is yet to reach the intended beneficiaries.

Community representative, Madlela Maphosa said they were shown the maize-meal by a Zanu PF delegation led by the party’s national chairperson, Simon Khaya-Moyo, which visited Nkomo’s homestead on March 8 this year.

They were told the maize-meal would be delivered on the same day, but up to last week the San people had not received the donation.
There are now fears that the maize-meal could have been diverted by some Zanu PF officials for personal benefit.

“We are hungry and still waiting for the promised maize-meal,” said Maphosa. “We were told that we would get the maize-meal as soon as possible, but to date there has been no communication.”

The 70-year-old community representative said hunger was forcing the San to harvest the maize cobs and watermelons even before they were ripe.
The plight of the San community has been worsened by the fact that a local organisation, which had been giving them food hand-outs, suspended operations last week.

The San community is angry that they have not been able to access the donated maize at a time when they are starving.

“We do not know why they are doing this to us [withholding the maize-meal]. What they are doing is evil,” said Siwatshi Moyo, a member of the community.

Mathuthu on Friday, however, said the maize-meal that was shown to villagers at the late Nkomo’s rural home on March 8 was just a “sample”.

She said the maize-meal was still there, but there was no transport to ferry it to Mgodimasili area, which is 48km from Tsholotsho centre.

“The maize-meal is still there. What we do not have is the transport to ferry it to Mgodimasili. Once we get transport, we will ferry it,” said Mathuthu. “In fact, that was just a sample [90 bags of 10kg maize-meal]. There is more maize-meal that will be going to the San.”

Analyst Dumisani Nkomo said it was tragic that Zanu PF leaders were making “false” promises of food aid to the San people who are facing death because of hunger.

“It is tragic and evil,” Nkomo said. “The San are the most marginalised group in Zimbabwe. We need structural reforms that will recognise and respect the San in order to improve their standard of living.”

Most of the san people in Mgodimasili area, a settlement of about 200 people, live in abject poverty and in dilapidated huts.

But just a few kilometres away, there is the Tjitatjawa village, which boasts of neat houses with corrugated iron roofs.

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