HomeEditorial CommentMugabe, stop rhetoric and act on starvation

Mugabe, stop rhetoric and act on starvation

President Robert Mugabe has time and again demonstrated that he does not understand the struggles ordinary Zimbabweans have to endure because of his misrule.

Standard Comment

On Friday, he was at it again, declaring at a rally in Bindura that no one will die of hunger in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe’s pronouncements came a week after his government revealed that four million people were facing starvation this year due to drought.

However, the impact of the food shortages are more devastating than what the government is willing to admit.

The United Nations last week painted yet another chilling picture of the food shortages in Zimbabwe with a warning that malnutrition rates were spiralling out of control.

The UN’s children agency, Unicef, said close to 33 000 children were suffering from malnutrition and needed urgent treatment.

Unicef said the levels of malnutrition had not been seen in the country for more than 15 years. It said most of the malnourished children were between one and two years old.

The agency has since appealed for $21 million to continue helping starving children.

Zimbabwe has experienced two years of low rainfall and poor harvests.

The current cropping season has been particularly poor due to problems linked to the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Mugabe last month belatedly declared a state of disaster in rural areas after most of the maize crop became a write-off due to the drought.

The UN and other aid agencies have repeatedly warned that time is running out to raise money from donors to feed the hungry.

Mugabe’s government appealed for a staggering $1,6 billion from international donors to deal with the effects of the drought.

The president’s address in Bindura did not reflect the dire situation on the ground and this is where the problem lies.

Mugabe has to appreciate the extent of the starvation stalking people in rural areas before making such promises, which he repeats every year there is a drought, despite evidence that children are bearing the brunt of the food shortages.

He should be reminded that mere rhetoric will not stop people from starving to death.

The government has to match the work being done by aid agencies to avert hunger in the country by mobilising resources to import maize.

Zimbabwe has the resources to feed its own people as long as the government has its priorities right.

Government leaders such as Mugabe have to avoid wasteful expenditure by cutting down on non-productive foreign trips so that the money is spent on food for the four million people facing starvation.

A fortnight ago, Mugabe wasted money going to the Far East on the pretext that he was attending a cultural festival in India.

He never went to India but was later traced to Singapore. The purpose of that trip is yet to be explained a week after Mugabe’s return.

The starving millions want to hear more about the practical steps the government is taking to alleviate their plight, not the political posturing Mugabe was doing on Friday.

His party, Zanu PF, also has a history of politicising food aid and Mugabe pledged that this would no longer be allowed to happen.

Again, Mugabe’s sincerity would be confirmed by what happens on the ground.

Usually what he says in public is the opposite of what the long-suffering Zimbabweans would be experiencing.

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading