Pamela Shumba and Nqobile Tshili—
NEW data from the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Zimvac) 2016 Rural Livelihoods Assessment survey, shows that 81 percent of Zimbabweans are choking under debts. According to the recent study, some people are even selling their properties to buy food owing to the prevailing economic challenges. Others were said to be selling more livestock than usual or spending savings on food.
Poor crop production was cited as one of the major reasons leading to the public seeking loans. “There is no significant difference in the proportions of households having loans/debts in 2016-81 percent compared to 2015, 79 percent.
“A higher proportion of male-headed households (21 percent) had loans/debts while 16,1 percent female-headed households had loans/debts at the time of conducting the survey,” reads the report. ZIMVAC said 61 percent of debtors depended on family and friends as sources for loans.
“The highest proportion of households across all provinces were borrowing to buy food. Matabeleland South (54 percent), and Matabeleland North (52 percent), and Masvingo 50 percent had the highest proportions of households borrowing to purchase food. The second most common reason for borrowing was to pay for education costs (Manicaland, Matabeleland North and South, Midlands and Masvingo),” reads the report.
The data comes at a time when Government has said it is in the process of updating food mitigation registers in all the provinces as four million people now require food assistance in the country.
The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Prisca Mupfumira said her ministry was working with provincial administrators and social welfare officials to update their registers to make sure that all deserving people benefit from food aid.
She said they recently held meetings with all provincial administrators, provincial welfare officers and provincial ministers, and directed them to go out to their constituencies to make sure that more people are added to the food mitigation registers.
“The registers should include the elderly, orphans, people living with disabilities and the chronically ill. These are the vulnerable groups, but we have since realised that because of the drought situation which we are in, there are more people who are not normally vulnerable who are in need of food assistance,” said Minister Mupfumira in Parliament last week.
“I am sure you are all aware that we have adequate stocks. As of last week, we had about 320 000 tonnes of maize available, and we have also received 19 000 tonnes of rice, which is going to be incorporated into the food mitigation programme.”