Hunger rips into Zim

via Hunger rips into Zim – DailyNews Live by Mugove Tafirenyika   3 NOVEMBER 2013  

 “We are now resorting to a single meal a day. As you can see the skies are barren and we fear the worst,” says Emmanuel Mapfumo as he watches his malnourished grandchildren kicking a plastic ball.

With more than a dozen mouths to feed, Mapfumo, who takes care of his three orphaned grandchildren in addition to  his four school-going children, is left with food barely enough to take him for the next two months.

The scorching heat and the clear skies are at variance with Mapfumo’s expectations in a normal October.

“The rain is not about to come as you can see there are no clouds to suggest the onset of the season.

Normally we should have received the first rains by now and most crops should be out of the soil already.

“Just as it has been the case in the last decade or so, we are once again headed for famine,”  the 55-year-old communal farmer in Manicaland’s Buhera district told the Daily News on Sunday.

“The government should consider declaring the hunger we are faced with as a national disaster because this year is likely to be a repeat of the 2012-2013 cropping season where harvest was poor.”

Although the government has taken note of the impending food security crisis, efforts at securing grain have been hampered by a critical shortage of funds to import enough grain from neighbouring Zambia.

So dire is the situation that United Nations (UN) aid agencies have fallen short of declaring a famine — a word they use sparingly and specifically.

In September, the Rome-based UN agency World Food Programme warned that some 2,2 million people were in need of urgent food aid.

The UN agency said this was the highest number of Zimbabweans requiring food assistance since early 2009, when more than half the population relied on such aid.

But the matter will not be treated with the urgency it deserves  by aid agencies aligned to the UN as the organisation only declares a famine in a country or region when 20 percent of households face extreme food shortages, over 30 percent of the population are acutely malnourished and every day, hunger causes two out of every 10 000 people to die.

While this may be so, it is not difficult to conclude that conditions need to be truly horrific before this definition of famine is met.

Even an acute malnutrition rate of, say, 28 percent would not qualify as a famine according to the UN’s technical  definition yet, like in the case of Mapfumo, it would be very much a crisis.

Thus the case of Mapfumo and the millions in the rural areas remain a lone voice in the desert hence his call on government to speedily attend to the potential catastrophe.

“There is need for government to urgently map new ways to help rural farming communities access enough water and produce enough food.

“Irrigation schemes are key infrastructure that could boost agricultural production,” suggested Mapfumo.

While his irrigation proposal sounds a splendid idea, financing of such projects can be an expensive venture especially since Zimbabwe’s chaotic land reform programme, which began in 2000, pushed many banks to withdraw support for agricultural activities.

And with the 99-year leases given to new farmers by government which are not bankable, funds to support their activities will not be easily available — raising the spectre of a Somalia-like famine.

Opposition MDC legislator and shadow agriculture minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo summed up the dire situation in Parliament two weeks ago pointing out that the country had moved from being a net exporter to a perennial food beggar.

“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,” Nkomo said.

The former minister of Water Resources highlighted the plight of villagers, warning that the rural folk could starve to death unless food relief efforts are intensified immediately.

In Masvingo, a province perennially affected by climatic hazards including floods and drought, villagers in Gutu, Chin’ombe, Zvavahera, Chitsa, Munyikwa and Chin’ai, areas are reportedly the worst hit.

“The food we are left with can hardly take us until Christmas. In some parts of Buhera down in Bocha people are already surviving on wild fruits and insects.

“There are some who can no longer afford two meals a day and are on the verge of starvation,” Mapfumo said expressing pessimism about the prospects of a better season this year.

With the ever-shifting rainfall patterns and climatic conditions that have become so unpredictable, Mapfumo seems to have resigned his family’s survival to fate.

Zimbabwe has suffered intermittent food shortages since 2000 when agricultural output fell after President Robert Mugabe decided to seize white-owned commercial farms to distribute to blacks.

According to the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), land seizures under the programme led to a rapid decline in farming as the new owners had little or no expertise.

Food production plunged in that period, from 2 million tonnes of maize in 2000 to 400 000 in 2010, according to the CFU, which represents mainly white farmers.



  • comment-avatar
    Jrr56 9 years ago

    I thought the Chinese farmers (who now seem to own vast tracts of land) would be feeding the people.

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    Looks like the free caps and tee shirts are going to cost alot now , not even the free chicken at zeros acre is going to be worth anything now

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    Becca 9 years ago

    And yet Mugabe is giving the wealth to the Chinese REALLY??

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    If Mugabe was serious about the people, all programmes of political campaigns were going to stop and then put all the energy in securing food for the people.Now factions are busy strategizing for the congress,but the same people you said gave you the mandate to rule are dying .I for one was sceptical about personal warning to ZANU PF ,but now I urge those related to Gumbo , Munangagwa , Mujuru ,Mutasa to tell them tohave a heart for the people.Made, how can you be Minister of Agric and people suffer year in year year out? ZANU PF thugs have no hearts at all.This is not a laughing MATTER.Sith government made sure that all above 65 did not pay taxes,buses, health etc.Now the elders are dying painfully.Very soon people will throw away the fear and act in the way ZANU PF thugs understend

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    Bruce 9 years ago

    Even the heavens loath Zanu PF, it does not rain, proper harvest ended some 20 years or so back, why, \Mugabe shoudl just go and his Zanu Pf. their time is up.

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    BossMyass 9 years ago

    Some people maintain that there is nothing wrong in appointing a relative to an influential position because a leader needs to surround oneself with people he/she can trust. But the question is: would the appointees have got the positions without using their blood connections? In some extreme cases, the entire country is inherited like a private farm as is the case in North Korea, Syria and some other countries where a ruling dynasty monopolizes power.
    A more subtle form of political corruption is ‘cronyism’ which involves the appointment of friends to influential positions. The officials are selected from a closed and exclusive social network, such as “home boys/girls” or the alumni of particular institutions. Here, the leader, minister, army commander, governor, commissioner or director surrounds him/herself with friends or relatives who are appointed because of their close proximity instead of their competency.
    The effect of cronyism is, of course, quite obvious: the appointees are only answerable to their boss. Because they operate as proxies they are neither strategic thinkers, who can make independent decisions nor are they capable of dealing with the day-to-day problems that affect the organization. In many countries, a combination of nepotism and cronyism has led to the mal-functioning or collapse of vital organizations such as national railways, airlines, town councils, inner city transport, ports, oil refineries, state farms, state-controlled mining corporations, state abattoirs and others because they are headed by cronies. And who suffers? It is ordinary citizens who subsidize the inefficient public institutions through paying heavy taxes to keep the state institutions operating.

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    Shebah 9 years ago

    You want to report on the worst cases. I got over 20 tonnes of maize from my last harvest. I dont need to sell to the urban sell outs or to GMB who dont have cash. Those who need maize know where to get it.

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      Well done shebah! Keep it up and we Will silence these self loathing fools who have nothing to offer the nation but gloom

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    Mr Mixed Race 9 years ago

    SHEBAH are a terrible joker who thins a drop in the ocean is something to be proud of. Please make meaningful contributions in the public press.Maybe you need a bit of education in carrying out proper agriculture to feed the nation not your home alone.W e have a national disaster which require proper action not selfish comments, when your poor country man are dying of hunger.You got the land, please produce more food to feed us.May I give you a bit of advice,its not easy to manage irrigation systems if you are not technically minded,therefore farming requires training and common sense, which are lacking to most of our new farmers.How many of our new farmers know how to monitor their soil humidity,soil chemistry etc?Your 20 tonnes is just equivalent to 400 bags only which cannot feed a village like Dete or Sipepa for a month.

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      BossMyass 9 years ago


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    george shava 9 years ago

    Shebah you are an idiot even Mugabe will not be impressed by your shallow thinking. People are debating a serious national problem but a dog like you is playing party politics. Remember even die_hard Zanu pf supporters are affected food shortages. Wake up mwana wehure

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    Chivulamapoti 9 years ago

    In my youth, ‘Zimdeasian’ days in November were greeted with the smell of moist rich, red loam, furrows of tiny maize, cotton, tobacco and sorghum plants peeking out. The rains were reliable because the forests, woodlands and even urban areas were not decimated, as they are today.
    God will not visit the rain upon us while ZANU-PF governs!
    We would pull delicate tobacco plants from the seed beds and carefully watch the clouds for rain before planting out.
    The Jersey cows would be heavy with delicious milk, grazing as they made their way homeward to the dairy. The Landrace pigs snort and snuff at the green vegetable tops from the irrigation crops, the pumpkins and rutabagas.
    The Mazoe (Mazowe) River would soon be bursting it’s banks and washing over the low level bridge. We used the skiff, suspension bucket bridge, to get neighbors and locals across.
    Swimming in the rapids where the crocodile and bilharzia isn’t found.
    The rains would pitter, patter as we looked over the lush garden, lawns green and bouncy, roses, hydrangea, honeysuckle, gardenia, passion fruit, leechee, mango, banana, hibiscus and dazzling herbaceous borders.
    Tea on the veranda, the far off drums, and laughter of the workmen and their wives drinking beer and dancing. Children, wide=eyed at the store, looking at the gob-stoppers and their parents furtively. Those were the days and they could be today, if Mugabe had a vesper of Mandela’s great spirit. There could have been a healing, a forgiving, a co-operation and a coming together to share. All this could have been legislated to bring black, white, brown and in between together to farm, open shops, make business, mine, care for wild animals and grow together. Instead Mugabe threw the baby out with the bathwater and it died! “Cry, My Beloved Country, Cry”.

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    “not for a thousand years”

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    Angel 9 years ago

    To rule like this Mr Mugabe needs a subservient population, dependant on him for favours. He needs land and resources to dispense to supporters. And he must respond with violence to anyone brave enough to stand up to him. The nation remains all but bankrupt and isolated internationally, and life for most Zimbabweans remains paralysed. He is convinced that he has righted a historic wrong by taking back land for blacks. Extraordinary though it may sound, he desperately wants a more favourable legacy by which to be remembered. And, in the hope of achieving this, he will hang on. Most Zimbabweans are sure of this: we will be stuck with Robert Mugabe until he (VERY SOON HOPEFULLY) dies in office.