Zimbabwe: church may sue government to resume food aid

 The Harare-based Daily News reported on Monday, that the Catholic church is considering legal action against war veterans who have halted its feeding programme for children and expectant mothers in Binga District. "The church is wondering whether the courts should be approached to force the police to give the church protection when they are delivering the food to the people," said a source quoted by the paper. Children are reportedly fainting from hunger in school. Church officials said the war veterans were still camped outside the church's warehouse, ready to pounce on delivery trucks hired to distribute the food to about 4 000 pre-school children and expectant mothers in the drought-prone district. Local MP Joel Gabhuza, said a report had been compiled on the impact of the drought in the region. "A number of school children are fainting from hunger and if the situation continues people will die of starvation," he said. He said some families were going up to one week without a solid meal, adding that war veterans wielding sticks and stones were milling outside the Catholic Church to stop the feeding programme. They launched their siege after the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Ignatius Chombo, ordered the Church's Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace Commission (CCJP) to abandon the feeding programme because it was using "structures similar to the government's". The MP said he had approached the District Administrator to convene a meeting between the church and war veterans.The Catholic Church diocese spokesman, Bishop Robert Ndlovu, could not be reached on Monday but was expected back in the office at the weekend.But sources said the church was considering taking legal action to be allowed to feed the people. In the run-up to the March presidential election, the government announced that all food aid from donors should be channelled through it, alleging the food was being used to whip up support for the Movement for Democratic Change. The war veterans' action, came shortly after an order by Chombo that the CCJP feeding project should be disbanded. On Monday, the Daily News said Binga villagers attacked the police for failing to remove the war veterans who are preventing the food distribution. A spokesman said: "If the government wants to punish people for not having voted for Zanu PF during the March election then it is shocking that pre-school children who are the beneficiaries of the feeding scheme should be made to suffer". source: Daily News

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