Zimbabwe has secured maize from Uganda after President Emmerson Mnangagwa engaged President Yoweri Museveni on the sidelines of the recently ended 33rd Ordinary Summit of the African Union in Ethiopia.
A delegation led by Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri travelled to the East African country to thrash out modalities of importing the grain.
President Mnangagwa revealed this on Friday at State House in Bulawayo when he met civil society organisations from the Matabeleland region.
“Fortunately, three or four days ago when we were in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) I was sitting with other Heads of State and President Museveni of Uganda said to me, ‘President Mnangagwa, I understand you need maize in Zimbabwe, I have plenty of it, come and collect’. So, I stood up from where I was sitting and went to him and he told me he had surplus maize. Yesterday (Thursday) I sent Minister Shiri to arrange the procurement of grain from Uganda,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the country was insulated from drought for the past two seasons as it had surpluses in its grain reserves.
“This is the third year in drought, the effects of this drought affect us directly. When we have a drought, food security in the country is threatened because we have not produced enough to feed ourselves. Fortunately, for the past two seasons we accumulated huge reserves which accumulated at the time I personally introduced Command Agriculture,” he said.
“But those reserves, with this current drought, have been exhausted and this is why we are now diverting all funds which had been targeted for capital projects to procure grain to feed the people. This then affects the implementation of developmental projects in the country because we need people to survive.”
Erratic rainfall, added President Mnangagwa, was not just affecting agriculture but power generation as well.
“We have experienced two droughts which have caused poor power generation. The entire country had inadequate power and it had an impact on agriculture, industry and people’s homes. This is making us get power from our neighbours.”
During the meeting, the President also announced that this year’s main Independence Day celebrations will be held in Bulawayo for the first time.
“We have already made a decision that beginning this year we will be holding our National Independence Day celebrations outside the City of Harare. For 39 years independence celebrations were held in Harare, but I realised that Independence is not for Hararians. As a result of that, we have now chosen to celebrate our 40th year of independence in the city of Bulawayo,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said this was in recognition of the role Bulawayo played in the liberation struggle.
“The nationalism of this country was here, ana Burombo (Benjamin) vakanga vari kuno. Furthermore, Bulawayo is the second-largest city in our country. I am counting on all stakeholders in Bulawayo and the greater Matabeleland region to ensure that our 40th Independence Day celebrations are a historic and memorable success,” he said.
President Mnangagwa also touched on the Zambezi Water Project and progress made so far.
“This gathering is working as a collective unit with collaboration between civic society and Government, which has been seized with developmental issues, one of which is the Zambezi Water Project. This project has been there for many years but because it was raised here and is beginning to move, so these are some of the benefits which come from conversation.
“I am happy to announce that considerable progress has been made towards the implementation of this project through discussions that have been made between Government and civil society. I am informed by the Attorney-General’s Office that it has complied a draft agreement between the Government and the affected communities of the region gathering the rules and parameters of the implementation of the project,” he said.
The meeting with civil society organisations was a follow-up meeting after the President met the same group last year in March.
President Mnangagwa said the Second Republic believes in dialogue.
“The cornerstone of the Second Republic is the deployment of dialogue as a means of resolving issues of conflict that may arise amongst us and the sharing of knowledge around us as Zimbabweans. We have demonstrated that we are capable of solving even the most acrimonious disputes among us amicably through internal dialogue and negotiations.
‘‘I have no doubt that the problems raised by this dialogue in March last year can and will be resolved in the same method that has brought us success before, which is dialogue and conversation.”