Wednesday 9 August 2017


COMMUNITIES in Bulawayo have expressed mixed feelings over Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s day-old chicks donations, with some accusing the politician of  “dumping substandard” birds on them, while others are backing the initiative.

Last year, Mphoko — a shareholder in the Choppies supermarket chain — went around Bulawayo suburbs — including Nkulumane, Pumula and Mpopoma — distributing day-old chicks to Zanu PF party supporters, a project he said was aimed at alleviating poverty and promoting in the communities.

“I am giving you these chicks free of charge so that you start income-generating projects to improve your standard of living and please feed these birds, don’t let them die,” he said during one of the gatherings where he was distributing the chicks.

However, to some, the initiative was a “deceptive” move, under which the VP was not well meaning.

An investigation revealed that over 50 percent of the chicks that were distributed reportedly died upon delivery or a few days later. For those that survived, the Daily News learnt that they had a stunted growth and took several months to mature.

The chicks were sourced from commercial white farmer, Peter Cunningham — owner of Maleme Farm in Matobo — who observers allege was returning the favour after Mphoko backed him in a farm dispute which involved politicians in the region.
Cunningham, however, could not be reached on his mobile.

The beneficiaries were made to go into groups of 10, and would normally receive a donation of 300 chicks per group, which in most cases they would share among themselves.

The Daily News also gathered that when the beneficiaries, who refused to be named, received the donations from the VP, they were unprepared and had no proper facilities to accommodate the chicks in addition to the fact that they had to acquire their own feed.
In reaction to the development, Zanu PF Bulawayo central district youth chairperson Magura Charumbira tore into Mphoko.

“Surely, it’s embarrassing for the VP to make such a fallacy donation,” Charumbira said.
“Instead of people benefiting, they actually lost a fortune, time and money. Almost everyone in our 12 constituencies is complaining that the chicks were rejects and besides, the process of distribution was totally biased, it was done on factional basis and only G40 members were benefiting from that programme.”

Zanu PF youth and former provincial commissar, Thabo Thwala, also rubbished the donations, adding: “That’s not how you eradicate poverty, honestly how can a whole VP give people dying chicks, chicks that are in an intensive care. When this happened, we asked ourselves whether it was a genuine empowerment or some political game.”

But Pumula legislator Godfrey Malaba, in whose constituency some benefited, differed.
He dismissed the complaints, and described the project as a success.

“The principal director in the vice president’s office, Themba Ndlovu was here recently trying to check the progress of the project. We showed him around and he was happy because some are doing quite well. The project was a success,” Malaba insisted.

“However, some chicks died because when they were donated, the people had not received proper training on how to keep them and the type of feed to use,” he said.

George Mlala, who was the chief coordinator on the programme, referred questions to Ndlovu, whom he said was responsible for compiling a report on the project.

Contacted for comment, Ndlovu said he couldn’t discuss details as he was still in the process of compiling the report.

“I am still in the process of compiling a report on the project, and I am left with two MPs, after then I will present it to the vice president (Mphoko) and it will be him who will be responsible for giving you the findings in that report. I am sure I will be done with the report in two to three weeks’ time,” he said. Daily News


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