DESPITE claims by President Robert Mugabe that the country is not facing food shortages, government last week launched its drought relief programme in the arid Matabeleland South province.
Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Paul Mangwana, launched the programme last Thursday in Beitbridge.
The launch of the feeding scheme was seen as an admission of the severity of the food crisis.
Felix Mafa, executive director of Post-Independence Survivors Trust, said the move shows there is a problem with food supply.
“The latest move by the government absolves (Bulawayo mayor Japhet) Ndabeni Ncube from any blame and confirms that lots of Zimbabweans are suffering as a result of the food shortages. There is a scarcity of food in this country,” he said.
Figures compiled by the Bulawayo City Council have shown that 162 people have died since January as a result of malnutrition. But government has reacted angrily to the reports, saying the country has an abundant supply of maize, the staple food.
The drought relief programme is set to benefit thousands of people who are finding it difficult to source food in the border town of Beitbridge, which is located in the drought-prone region.
Beitbridge MP Kembo Mohadi, who is also Home Affairs minister, said the launch of the feeding scheme would go a long way to alleviate the plight of people in the district.
The launch of the programme came a few days after Information minister Jonathan Moyo claimed Zimbabwe had an abundance of maize. Mafa said the programme exposed Moyo’s statements as threadbare.
“Moyo is a propagandist and he is not qualified to talk about statistics on food. How can government claim that there are no food shortages on the one hand and then on the other go on to have feeding programmes. It’s hypocrisy of the highest order,” Mafa said.
Zimbabwe Liberators Peace Forum president Max Mnkandla said government was not sincere with the food situation in the country.
“In reality there is not enough food in this country and all we are hearing from Moyo is mere politicking but people have no food,” he said.