Zimbabwean bishops appeal for food aid

 The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference has appealed for churches and other donors around the world to send food to their famine-stricken country. They also urge the government to depoliticise the procurement of food and call upon all institutions in the food distribution chain to be 'honest and transparent'. In their August pastoral letter released last week, the bishops, among them Patrick Chakaipa of Harare, Pius Ncube of Bulawayo and retired auxiliary bishop of Mutare Patrick Mutume appealed to their sister churches in the world to donate food. "For the sake of the nation and its survival, we urge the government to quickly depoliticise the procurement and distribution of food and put in place controls to minimise acquisition of food by threats or any other means, corruption and exploitation," they wrote. The United Nations has said about six million people need emergency food aid. The bishops' appeal comes after allegations that Zanu PF officials have been denying suspected MDC supporters access to donated maize, an allegation the government has denied. Last week, the government impounded 28 tonnes of maize imported by the MDC from South Africa, saying there was no import licence for it. The bishops' pastoral letter said donors and their sister organisations should be assured that, as much as possible, assistance received will be distributed in a transparent manner and given to the neediest. The letter said: "As there is not enough food in Zimbabwe, we especially extend our appeal to our sister churches in the world, donors and all people of goodwill to urgently come to the assistance of Zimbabwe. We therefore appeal to whoever is involved in the distribution of food to uphold the principles of honesty and transparency in the sharing of food. In the past droughts, we have always distributed food successfully and we should use the experience acquired to distribute food now." The bishops said that corruption levels in the country had filtered to the grassroots and made it difficult for the ordinary poor citizens to make ends meet and exploitation of man by man has risen to unprecedented levels. source: CISA/Pedzisai Ruhanya, The Daily News

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