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Opposition MP raises motion to investigate food crisis

By Never Kadungure | Nehanda Harare Bureau |

HARARE – An opposition legislator on Tuesday tabled a motion in Parliament calling for the establishment of a Committee to enquire about the food shortage crisis which has left over 2,2 million people needing food aid in Zimbabwe.

Dr Sam Sipepa Nkomo
Dr Sam Sipepa Nkomo

Samuel Sipepa Nkomo the MDC-T Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Land and Water Development introduced the motion which was seconded by Lucia Matibenga (MDC-T). Nkomo noted that “Zimbabwe was once the breadbasket of Southern Africa and has now been reduced to a basket case.”

Nkomo slammed Government’s lack of precautionary programmes to avert hunger in the face of a poor rainy season. He said cases of multiple farm ownership and the subsequent under-utilisation of land were detrimental factors that had contributed to low crop and livestock production.

“The victims of elite capture have been the ordinary villagers of Kezi and Siyachilaba who have to contend with debilitating food shortages following the dysfunctionality of a hitherto well laid out food market chain.”

The former Water Resources and Development Minister in the coalition government said although the land reform exercise was a noble cause it was clear it was not well thought out and was just a reaction to the emergence of a strong opposition party “in a hitherto monopolised political landscape.”

“Food hand-outs by non-governmental organisations have been an annual feature in the country’s calendar of events,” said Nkomo. He said it was also disheartening to note that the Zanu PF government has been distributing food aid along political lines to punish those who do not support the MDC.

“It is indeed sad and primitive that a government can deliberately starve its own populace for purposes of political expedience. It is the essence of democracy to have divergent political ideologies with government having the capability to rise above party politics and provide food to all deserving and bona fide Zimbabweans.

“It has become a common trend that the government churns out millions of dollars annually in support of farmers – who 13 years after the Land Reform Programme, are still being referred to as ‘new farmers’ and are hand-held by government with no indication of self-sustaining operations in the near future.

“While government has an obligation to support farmers, the current support mechanisms are not sustainable as they are characterised by an endless cycle of one way financial and input injections which are not matched by equivalent returns. It does not, therefore, come as a surprise that Zimbabwe is now a basket case from its rightful position as the bread basket of Southern Africa,” he said.

“It is indeed deplorable and points to failed leadership and policies. I duly move a motion that this august House sets up a Committee to enquire into the food shortage crisis that is currently engulfing Zimbabwe,” Nkomo added.

In her address, Matibenga said the dire food security situation needed a major rethink in terms of the country’s agricultural policies.

“Making Zimbabwe’s agriculture work again requires favourable socio-political climate, adequate governance and macro-economic fundamentals underpinned by robust and responsive institutions.

It will be vital for Government to invest in irrigation infrastructure to offset drought vulnerability, institute reforms to ensure timely supply of inputs, a pricing and market policy that balances incentives between food and cash crops,” she said.

Last month the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said an estimated 2.2 million people – a quarter of the rural population – are expected to need food assistance during the pre-harvest period in early 2014. This is the highest since early 2009 when more than half the population required food support.