Lomahasha: Corruption and favoritism is not always associated with monetary gains. This has been proven in the unfair and uneven distribution of food donations to desperately poor Eswatini citizens. Community motivators (Bagcugcuteli) and constituency representatives (Bucopho) who have been tasked with the responsibility of controlling the food rations donated by the Republic of Taiwan and the Government of Japan are being selective in their distribution of the product.
It has been observed that the community motivators and the constituency representatives only provide their relatives, friends, and fellow church members. It is alleged that the constituency officials inform their preferred beneficiaries through their cell phones when they expect a food delivery from the National Disaster Management Agent.
The food donations usually comprise of 50 kilograms of maize, 50 kilograms of rice, and 2litres of cooking oil and beans. Starving families who happened to be at the distribution point were amazed when they were turned away while people who are known to afford groceries received the donations.
The Lomahasha Member of Parliament, Ndumiso Masimula confirms that he has received complaints regarding the matter. He has called an investigation into the alleged malpractice. Masimula has requested the chiefdoms within the constituency to get involved in the selection process and identify those that are in real need.
A disgruntled Senzo Msimango who did not benefit from the donations said “whenever there is something for the people from the government they would always share amongst themselves as church congregants (bazalwane), or close relatives (netihlobo), we have always received nothing. Many poverty-stricken folks does not benefit from these donations and the unfortunate thing is that we’re being undermined by the very people who are meant to take care of our welfare.” Another intended beneficiary, Betty Mkhabela said she was perplexed because she too is a member of the Jericho church but was not considered for the donation even though she has no source of income.
Asked to comment on the situation, the Communication Officer of the NDMA, Wandile Mavuso explained that there is a criterion that is used when identifying food beneficiaries. Mavuso explained that “the intention of NDMA is to assist every deserving citizen that needs food assistance. Unfortunately, due to a lack of resources, we cannot assist every Swazi with food rations. However, we make it a point that all those that deserve to be assisted, get the assistance. Food distributions are currently ongoing.”
The following homesteads are considered when distributing food donations.
- Households that have a temporary loss of income by the household head
- Temporary loss of remittances
- Household who suffered crop loss due to the drought
- Household with a pregnant or lactating mother
- Household with one/ more children under the age of 5
- Household with no formal/sustainable income
- Household headed by an elderly person
- Household headed by a child (OVC)
- Household headed by a person with a disability
- Household headed by a person with chronic illness.