Zimbabwe: Cyclone Idai Food Donations Rotting in Warehouses

19 September 2019

Food items worth thousands of dollars donated to Cyclone Idai victims are rotting in warehouses in Chimanimani East and it is unclear why they have not been handed over to the intended beneficiaries.

Cyclone Idai ravaged Chipinge and Chimanimani districts in March this year, killing hundreds and destroying infrastructure worth over a billion dollars.

It also destroyed food reserves and crops, leaving victims vulnerable and in urgent need of aid.

This saw Government appealing for local and international assistance.

But in a sad development, The Herald is reliably informed that some foodstuffs have either decayed or expired while locked up at Nyahode District Union Warehouse, also referred to as Machongwe Food Distribution Centre, at Machongwe Business Centre in Chimanimani East.

"Among food items that have expired while in the warehouses awaiting distribution are the following-- 30 tonnes of mealie-meal, 1 850kg of corn soya blend, 1 150kg of plain flour, 500 x6 packets sugar beans and 1 000kg of Maheu Instant," a source told The Herald.

The 30 tonnes of mealie-meal expired on September 7, 2019.

The 1 150kg of plain flour expired on March 27, 2019 while the Maheu Instant donations passed their consumption date on August 18.

The Herald news crew visited the warehouse on Tuesday, but could not gain access as it was locked.

Keys to the warehouses are reportedly kept in the Chimanimani District development coordinator's office.

The DCC, Mr John Misi, was in a meeting at Chimanimani Rural District Council on Tuesday for the better part of the day and no immediate comment could be obtained from him.

However, acting provincial development coordinator Mr Edgars Seenza yesterday confirmed receiving reports suggesting food donations were rotting in the warehouse.

"Get in touch with the district development coordinator (Mr Misi). I used to get those reports and I have asked him to prepare a report," said Mr Seenza.

Mr Misi was not answering his mobile phone yesterday when his comment was sought.

Chimanimani East legislator Cde Joshua Sacco also confirmed that some of the foodstuffs had expired.

He said there was a similar situation at the Charter Hall warehouse.

"I am very disappointed with the lack of distribution of foodstuffs in the past three months. Perishables are rotting while some foodstuffs have expired.

"When I asked the responsible authorities they said they do not have fuel to distribute the food. That was the response I got. I believe it is an issue of inefficiency on the part of those responsible," said Cde Sacco.

"Food needs to be moved out immediately and I have made recommendations to that effect to the responsible offices," added Cde Sacco.

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