By Fani Mapfumo
About 8 million (60 %) of the Zimbabwean population is facing serious food shortages by December due to continued droughts in the country and COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted the informal sector.
This was revealed by a documentary released by the by the World Food Program (WFP) of the United Nations (UN) this week.
In the documentary UN says the food crisis which is emanating from “prolonged droughts, a battered economy and COVID-19” must be treated with a sense of emergency to avoid famine in the country.
This comes at a time when President Emmerson Mnangagwa has assured the international community that there will be no politicization of food handouts as the government brings relief to hunger-stricken citizens.
While addressing foreign diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe recently, Mnangagwa said while the government had achieved most of the set targets under its Transitional Stabilization Program, successive droughts and the effects of Tropical Cyclone Idai in 2019 had eroded some of its successes.
“Our immediate priority is to guarantee food security for our people. There shall be no politicization of food distribution,” he said.
Zimbabwe government officials have often been accused of favoring ruling Zanu PF party supporters and abandoning the opposition in the distribution of food aid.
According to Heal Zimbabwe director Rashid Mahiya, the problem has been worsened by the politicisation of food aid.
“Women and older people are being denied food aid on the basis of political affiliation yet there is drought and COVID-19.” Mahiya said in an interview.
Hilal Elver, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said in late 2019 that she was also concerned about reports that food relief was being distributed along partisan lines that favored supporters of the ruling party.
According to the UN, 90% of Zimbabwean children aged six months to two years are not consuming the minimum acceptable diet.
WFP in January also placed Zimbabwe among 15 critical and complex emergencies at risk of deteriorating further into crisis if there is no rapid response to the prevailing food insecurity.
Zimbabwe has not had adequate rainfall for the past 5 years and the 2019-2020 agricultural season had the worst rainfalls.
This has been worsened by the COVID-19 which left the informal sector on its knees. Zim Morning Post