6 February 2013

Mozambique: Relief Agency Denies NGO Claims

Maputo — The Mozambican government’s relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC), has denied claims by a South African NGO, “Gift of the Givers”, that food aid for Mozambican flood victims is being diverted to fake lists of beneficiaries.

Gift of the Givers is an Islamic organisation and, according to a report in Wednesday’s issue of the independent newsheet “Mediafax”, INGC sources accuse it of using food aid distribution in the temporary accommodation centres for flood victims in the southern province of Gaza to grab publicity for itself.

Gift of the Givers says it withdrew from the largest accommodation centre, at Chihaquelane, 30 kilometres from the flooded town of Chokwe, when it discovered that the camp administrators and their families were on the list of beneficiaries.

"Things went wrong because of the Mozambican government officials”, accused the organisation’s founder, Imtiaz Sooliman. “I issued instructions for lists containing the names of women and children, and of the elderly and sick, to be given to me today. Instead we discovered these bogus and fictitious lists with the names of people not in need of anything”.

But Sooliman has no business giving instructions to anybody in Mozambican centres. In attempting to distribute its own aid directly, Gift of the Givers was violating all the procedures established by the INGC for orderly distribution.

According to the “Mediafax” report, all assistance must be channelled to the INGC, the Mozambique Red Cross (CVM) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). These are the institutions that manage food aid distribution at the accommodation centres.

It is, however, true that there are lists of beneficiaries with the heads of the accommodation centres at the top, which the INGC source regarded as perfectly normal. The heads of the centres are also flood victims, displaced from their homes, and the organisation of the centres reflects the organisation of the communities from which the people came.

The INGC source regarded respect for community organisation as crucial for ensuring the support is channelled in an equitable manner to all those affected.

“Mediafax” adds that Gift of the Givers also tried to obtain tax exemptions on some of the goods it was bringing in, and the Mozambican government turned down this request.

After the accusations from Gift of the Givers were published in some of the South African media, the INGC met with leaders of the organisation on Tuesday in the Gaza provincial capital, Xai-Xai, to clear up any misunderstandings. The meeting decided that Gift of the Givers must follow the same procedures as every other organisation supporting the flood victims.

Gift of the Givers seems to have accepted the decision, since on Tuesday afternoon it was handing over the goods it had brought to the INGC, which then supervised their distribution.

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