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Malnutrition Toll Rising Sharply In Zimbabwe's Midlands Province

Though donors including the United Nations World Food Program in collaboration with non-governmental organizations have expanded food distribution in Zimbabwe, people are dying of malnutrition by the scores in Midlands province, says Peter Muchengeti, provincial chairman for the National Association of Non-Governmental Organization.

Muchengeti told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the Gweru and Kwekwe hospital mortuaries now hold the bodies of 60 victims of malnutrition.

Muchengeti added that although the Gweru city council is controlled by the Movement for Democratic Change, district-level officials of the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe continue to obstruct efforts by NGOs to distribute food assistance.

Elsewhere, Churches in Bulawayo, a faith-based aid group, says it has had to suspend food distribution to some 36,000 people because it is not receiving sufficient food supplies.

The organization said it had been providing food to older people and the those in poor health who had been left out of other feeding programs, providing packets with enough maize meal, cooking oil, beans and porridge meal to keep one person going for a month.

Churches in Bulawayo was among the few organizations allowed to keep distributing food aid during the period from June to August when the government banned most non-governmental organizations from engaging in such assistance, charging political partisanship.

Churches in Bulawayo Vice Chairman Promise Manceda, the group's food aid coordinator, told reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga that the organization is asking the World Food Program to register its former beneficiaries because they are now facing starvation.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...