By Tatenda Chitagu
ZION Christian Church leader Nehemiah Mutendi, one of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s closest allies, yesterday warned that the high levels of hunger in the country could trigger mass uprisings, hence the need for government to urgently address the issue.
Mutendi told Mnangagwa during a tour of Mbungo Estate in Masvingo that it was too risky for the nation to depend on donor food handouts, adding “a hungry man is ungovernable”.
“A hungry man is ungovernable. How can the nation depend on donations when we have our land?” he asked.
Besides high levels of poverty characterised by food shortages, job losses, currency volatility, Mnangagwa’s tenure has also been rocked by allegations of gross human rights abuses which have triggered recurrent opposition-led protests against his government.
Mutendi’s warning came at a time the World Food Programme has raised the red flag over food security in the country, once regarded as the breadbasket of southern Africa.
The United Nations agency has launched a campaign to raise more than US$250 million in emergency aid for starving Zimbabweans.
In a joint report released in April, the European Union, the Food and Agricultural Organisation, United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Unicef, United States Agency for International Development and World Food Programme said over seven millions Zimbabweans were food insecure.
Mutendi, who once told Mnangagwa that he should work with opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to keep him under check, said there was urgent need to address the food situation in the country.
He, however, said some of the food shortages were engineered by Zanu PF rivals to incite anti-government protests.“It is a ploy by enemies to make people hungry and angry,” Mutendi said.
“This is no time to wait to be given a job by someone. You say there are no jobs when you have land. Why wait when you have land? Even on your small yard, plant something,” he added.
In his brief address, Mnangagwa, who denies that the country is in a crisis, accused the opposition of criticising him without proffering solutions to the problems facing the country.
“We have people in this country who just shout from morning to dusk talking of human rights. They do not have time to see the good in their country. They look for the negatives. We have organisations that do not preach peace, but violence,” he said.
“Before criticising others, look at yourself, introspect.”