Charging villagers transport for welfare food is illegal – PDC warns councilors

Villagers get no receipts for payments

NKULUMANI MLAMBO

MASVINGO – Newly appointed Masvingo Provincial Development Co-ordinator (PDC) Jefter Sakupwanya has warned councillors who charge villagers transport for delivery of welfare food and agricultural inputs that they will be jailed because the act is illegal.
He said that Government delivers welfare food or inputs at no cost to beneficiaries.
Councillors throughout Masvingo Province and in particular Gutu District are charging villagers $100 per 50kg bag of maize delivered under welfare programmes. The amount is shared between the councillor and truck drivers.
There are no receipts given against the payments.
At Mandeya Business Centre in Nyazvidzi on November 5, 2020, Gutu North MP Yeukai Simbanegavi led her councillors by example when she forced villagers to pay for transport and then handed over the money to a truck driver. The Mirror witnessed the incident.
Simbanegavi refused to talk to The Mirror.
Ward 10 councillor, Jainos Mudonhi said the instruction for villagers to pay for transport was given by Gutu District Development Co-ordinator, Chiedza Tafireyi.
Tafireyi switched off her phone when The Mirror called her for comment. Thereafter she did not answer her phone.
It is not clear who exactly is responsible for distribution of Government welfare as Social Welfare officers become spectators as politicians use their own lists to do food distribution.
Most villagers who are hungry and starving cannot afford the cost and they have to borrow or share their allocation with those who give them money for transport.
The Mirror witnessed villagers making payments for transport at Tongogara and Chinyika Business centres in Gutu North recently.
Sakupwanya said forcing villagers to pay transport for welfare food is an act of corruption and said such people should be reported to Police at once. He said welfare is meant to cushion the villagers.
At Chinyika on Thursday last week Ward 10 councillor asked villagers to pay $10 each for the 2kg pockets of rapoko that they received. The GMB truck driver was asked by the councillor to come forward and explain to the villagers the reason for paying for transport but he melted away after realising the presence of Mirror reporters.
Gutu Rural District Council chairman, Nicholas Zambara said “Villagers pay for transport costs because if we wait for the Government process it may take up to two months for the grain to arrive to beneficiaries so we decided to mobilise funds on our own to speed up the process. Truck drivers meet in Gutu and agree on how much to charge depending on the distance to be covered, some have to pay as much a US$1 per beneficiary for those in far away places,” said Zambara.
“Villagers who are receiving Pfumvudza and food relief should not be forced to pay transport costs as it is the responsibility of the Government to deliver grain to beneficiaries at no cost”, said Sakupwanya.
“Madam Tafireyi said truck drivers should be paid for transporting inputs to beneficiaries. She said that GMB does not pay for the trucks and the onus is on beneficiaries to pay.
“We don’t even touch the money as the driver does the collections on his own as you saw at Chinyika Business Centre,” said Mudonhi.

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