Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI-Z) a non-partisan, systems oriented local chapter of the international movement in the fight against corruption is deeply disturbed by reports on alleged corruption in rural areas in which political leaders exacerbate the suffering of the most vulnerable people living in rural communities.
It has come to TI-Z attention that most people in Tsholotsho are not accessing the government’s Grain Loan Scheme. The Grain Loan scheme is a social safety net which was introduced by the government to assist villagers in need of grain. However that seems to have fallen on the wayside as councillors and local leaders who are politicians loyal to their parties are accused of selecting beneficiaries along party lines.
A survey conducted by TI-Z revealed that villagers were being asked to pay up to US$3 the transportation of grain. Only a few were being chosen to benefit from this scheme despite the fact that they all had paid money for the transportation of the grain from Bulawayo to Tsholotsho. Upon further inquiry it emerged that councillors were choosing people who are loyal to their political parties. TI-Z also learnt that few people were benefitting from the scheme because powerful political figures and ministers are accused of diverting grain and agricultural inputs such as fertiliser meant to benefit communities of Tsholotsho to other nearby constituencies. Villagers further allege that a minister (name supplied) was taking grain from Tsholotsho and giving it to people of nearby constituency leaving the people of Tsholotsho helpless.
The Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) facility is another social safety net which is being abused by local community leaders. Respondents visited by TI-Z accused headmasters and traditional leaders for abusing the facility meant to benefit everyone in the community. Rural communities such as Tsholotsho and Lupane are more vulnerable to the corruption risks than the urban community as a result of a multiplicity of factors. Rural communities depend on the government and Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO for food aid and school fees support for the vulnerable groups of society.
TI-Z strongly believes there is need for the government through the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to intervene and investigate alleged corrupt activities in rural areas. Parliamentarians and representatives should pay attention to these reports because their constituencies are suffering while they are living lavishly in urban areas. The trend has been that most parliamentarians neglect the people they represent and only re-surface during election periods. The electorate should choose leaders who uphold principles of transparency, accountability and integrity.