No special treatment for the blind, says Mathema

RESIDENT Minister and Governor for Bulawayo, Cain Matema, has reversed a decision by deputy Information minister Bright Matonga to allow the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to sell maize to blind people on a preferential basis.


Maton

ga, after being approached by the Zimbabwe National League of the Blind (ZNLB) at a meeting in Bulawayo in February, arranged for blind people to access grain directly from the GMB depot.


The blind had indicated to Matonga that they were facing serious hardships in sourcing maize from the market due to the shortages of the commodity.


They were then supplied with a first consignment of 700 kg of maize in February for distribution to about a hundred families affiliated to the organisation.


However, later attempts to secure another allocation in March failed after the GMB revealed that Mathema had ordered the parastatal to block deliveries of grain to the blind.


Ishmael Zhou, the executive director of ZNLB, this week confirmed that Mathema ordered the cancellation of the grain supply facilitated by Matonga.


Zhou said Mathema has refused to reverse the decision saying the blind people should use the same methods they used before to get mealie-meal.


“I have held a meeting with Mathema concerning the availability of mealie-meal to the blind but he retorted that there was no special treatment in the allocation of maize at the GMB,” Zhou said.


He said Mathema said it was not his responsibility to run around looking for mealie-meal for anybody.


When contacted to comment, Mathema said grain was supplied to everyone regardless of their physical condition.


“Residents should have access to mealie-meal and I have no comment on those that want special favours,” Mathema said. “Residents must have access to grain. That is my main concern.”


Efforts to get a comment from Matonga were fruitless as he was said to be out of his office.


Zhou however said he was not happy with the treatment the blind were getting from government officials and said it was sad that the disabled were needed towards elections only to be discarded after they had voted politicians into power.


Bulawayo has been facing maize meal shortage, a situation that has seen black market traders cashing in on the crisis and selling the basic commodity at highly-inflated prices. — Staff Writer.