via Govt to declare drought a national disaster – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 5, 2016
GOVERNMENT plans to declare the drought, which is ravaging most parts of the country, a national disaster, to facilitate the provision of food aid, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa told Senate yesterday.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Mnangagwa said this after Senator Theresa Makone (MDC-T) quizzed him on when government was likely to declare the drought a national disaster in view of the massive crop failure this agricultural season.
Makone said the declaration of the drought as a national disaster would immediately trigger a response from the international community that there was urgent need for food assistance.
“It is true that this year there is hunger, and most of the time when there is hunger in the country we declare it a national disaster in order to attract assistance from non-governmental organisations,” Mnangagwa said.
“We give them statistics, and currently we are compiling the data so that in future we will announce it as a national disaster.”
Mnangagwa said people must not panic, as government had already entered into an agreement with Zambia to buy 110 metric tonnes of maize.
“We have paid for 50 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia and 16 metric tonnes are already in the country, with 34 metric tonnes yet to come. Last week we negotiated with Zambia that they should give us 110 metric tonnes. We got $200 million to buy that maize,” he said.
Manicaland Senator Keresencia Chabuka (MDC-T) said in some areas villagers were now surviving on porridge made from wild tree roots.
Bulawayo Metropolitan Senator Agnes Sibanda (MDC-T) said many cattle were dying in Matabeleland resulting in desperate villagers selling livestock for a song.
She said government must devise ways to also give food assistance to the cattle.
“We got reports from Matabeleland, Midlands and Masvingo that some livestock have no water. We have plans to inform the people of cattle feeding programmes by the Agriculture ministry and Cold Storage Company. We also said in some areas we will keep the females and take the males for slaughter,” Mnangagwa said.