via Urbanites to get food aid – Sunday News Feb 20, 2016
Dumisani Sibanda Sunday News Correspondent
THE Government will start giving maize to vulnerable people in urban areas as drought relief beginning next month, the Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Tapiwa Matangaidze, has announced. Cde Matangaidze made the announcement in response to a question raised in Parliament on why people in urban areas were not receiving drought relief like their rural counterparts although they were also affected by the famine.
“The policy we have for feeding people in the urban areas is under the Public Assistance Programme,” he said, in response at the august house on Wednesday. “Initially, we were giving cash payments to that group of people, but we have since reverted, from this month onwards to giving them maize as well. So, yes, with effect from the beginning of next month, you will see us giving maize to people in the urban areas.”
Cde Matangaidze said they would provide information of the food distribution activities as requested by another legislator, Dr Ruth Labode.
He said his ministry already does this as it supplies information to Cabinet on food distribution on a weekly basis.
Cde Matangaidze said currently Government has a programme in eight districts called the Public Assistance Programme.
“On that programme, for the two urban centres namely Harare Metropolitan and Bulawayo, we have been giving cash payments to identified individuals and households,” he said. “We will avail the information. We are now saying, yes we sympathise with the urban settlements right now and with immediate effect, from next month, we will be issuing out grain to the vulnerable households in the urban areas.”
About two weeks ago, President Mugabe declared the El-Nino induced drought a national disaster.
The regional drought worsened by the El Niño weather phenomenon has affected South Africa, Malawi and Zambia as well with thousands of cattle deaths reported while some dams and other water sources are also reported to be drying up.
Government says about to 2,44 million people representing 26 percent of the population will require food aid.