Saturday, September 03, 2005

Aid finally allowed in (it's only been a month)


Harare - Zimbabwe has lifted duties for 6 000 blankets donated by South African churches for victims of Harare's recent urban demolitions which will now be distributed, an aid body said on Thursday.

"We got a duty-free letter so we can now distribute the blankets," Christian Care director Reverend Forbes Matonga told AFP but added that authorities were still demanding customs duty on food items to Zimbabwe.

"It will be costly to distribute the blankets and food separately so we are now pushing for a rebate for the beans and cooking oil."

Zimbabwe's revenue authorities demanded customs duty for the blankets and barred aid workers from distributing consignment.

South African churches donated blankets and sent two other trucks packed with maize, beans and cooking oil to Zimbabwe two weeks ago to help hundreds of thousands left homeless and destitute in the clean-up drive.


By Tererai Karimakwenda
02 September 2005

The tonnes of food donated by The South African Council of Churches (SACC) to help victims of operation Murambatsvina were finally cleared by Zimbabwean authorities on Friday, a month after the package was put together for the desperate families.

Speaking for the churches, Ron Steele confirmed the final duty-free permits had been granted and the trucks would be leaving Johannesburg for Zimbabwe. Blankets that were released from a bonded warehouse in Harare earlier this week are already being distributed by Christian Care, the local NGO working with the SACC and Zimbabwe's Council of Churches.

The month delay was caused by the Zimbabwe side which first demanded certificates showing the maize was not genetically modified, then insisted on charging duty on the donated goods even though it was the Zimbabwe government that created the crisis. Despite all the difficulties, the SACC said they are still willing to help. They are meeting on Monday to decide the next step.

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