Hunger grips rural Zim

HARARE - Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans in drought ravaged areas are living on wild fruits and competing with wild animals to access scarce food and water amid intensifying hunger.

Legislators made an impassioned plea to the Daily News yesterday to highlight the plight of villagers, warning that the rural folk could starve to death unless food relief efforts are intensified immediately.

The situation is increasingly getting desperate, with reports from Gutu suggesting that  villagers have resorted to buying maize and maize meal at night to ward off beggars.

DIRE STRAITS...Young boys pick maize grain that spilt along a highway in Zimbabwe. Pic: New York Times

Villagers in Chin’ombe, Zvavahera, Chitsa, Munyikwa and Chin’ai were said to be under the deadly grip of famine.

“The people are now in the habit of buying maize or maize meal at night,” said Tofanei Mutambu of Zvidzai Village in Chin’ombe communal lands.

“You have to go with a big suitcase to hide it so that you don’t attract unnecessary attention from other villagers, because they will swarm your home begging for food for their families.”

Other villagers said people were  visiting the grinding mill at night because of the same reasons.

Chenai Makombo from Munyikwa said: “Besides going to the grinding meal at night, some people no longer carry the whole 25-litre buckets or the 20 kg bag of maize for grinding. You have to go there with small quantities like 5kgs so that people will think that you are  also struggling.”.

In the drought-prone district of Muzarabani, which lies in Mashonaland Central, villagers were said to be surviving on wild fruits.

“Things are bleak this side and people are surviving on baobab fruit (mauyu),” said Alfred Mafunga, MP for Muzarabani North.

“Just yesterday, we went to GMB (Grain Marketing Board) to scrounge for food for the elderly.

“Boreholes have since dried up and people are now travelling long distances to fetch water from Mukumbura River.”

William Mutomba, MP for Buhera North  in Manicaland Province said a humanitarian crisis was unfolding in the district, with villagers now under threat from marauding wild animals such as hyenas frantically searching for food as well.

“I cannot hide this,” Mutomba said. “We have a crisis here and people are suffering. Food from the government takes long to get here and when it finally does, it is barely enough.

“To make matters worse, we do not have much of wild fruits and where they are available, people have to compete with wild animals because they are also affected by the drought.”

Kalisto Gwanetsa, Zanu PF legislator for Chiredzi South,  said villagers in his constituency were staring hunger in the face.

“The situation is difficult because there is nothing for people to eat,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it is the government which is coming to the rescue. Life is hard but against all odds, people are somehow surviving.”

In Matabeleland North, the situation is desperate.

“The situation is desperate when you travel on the gravel roads everyone you come across will be chewing matohwe or uxauxau,” said Abednico Bhebhe, MP for Nkayi South.

“People don’t have anything else to eat but wild fruits and roots. Because of the situation, people have been reduced to having a single meal a day.

“The situation is even worse for livestock which is already dying from hunger.

“Instead of people relying on livestock for farming and as an income earner, they cannot trade now, because the animals are so thin.”

In Matabeleland South’s Bulilima, an invasion by elephants has resulted in the giant mammals drinking dry the little water available.

“There is no water because elephants drank all that was left from the dams. With this situation people are going to starve,” said Lungisani Nleya, MP for Bulilima West.

Annually, Zimbabwe, once known as the breadbasket of southern Africa, requires two million tonnes of grain to feed its people and livestock, but only posted a meagre 968 000 tonnes for the 2011-2012 season.

Prospects for the forthcoming season are even dimmer as people turn to commercial crops such as tobacco at the expense of traditional cereal grains.

To meet domestic needs, President Robert Mugabe said the country would import maize from regional neighbours such as Zambia, but the neighbouring country is now demanding cash up-front.

“To make matters worse, unrest in neighbouring Mozambique, which is a vital conduit for transportation of grain, fertiliser, rice and fuel for landlocked Zimbabwe, was compounding the situation.

“A United Nations food agency says Zimbabwe is facing “a looming food crisis” with 2,2 million people expected to need emergency food aid in the coming months.

The UN World Food Programme has already started parcelling handouts to struggling villagers.

Rising hunger, mostly in the southern districts, according to the UN, is caused by erratic weather, the high cost and shortages of seed and fertiliser in the troubled economy and a 15 percent rise in prices for the maize staple after poor harvests this year.

In years of political and economic turmoil, Zimbabwe needed regular food handouts.

About  1,4 million people in the population of almost 13 million received food aid last year.

Comments (20)

ndiko kuti ZANU PF

Hazvie - 30 October 2013

Sad sad sad. Its time for us as a nation to move forward and to stop the blame game. Hunger is cutting across the political and non-political divide. Lets do something.

jurist - 30 October 2013

Takamborireva kare kuti hutungamiri hwenyika hukasaisa musoro pamwechete ticharasikirwa nehama kumaruwa uku.

Kache Mhofu - 30 October 2013

Takamborireva kare kuti hutungamiri hwenyika hukasaisa musoro pamwechete ticharasikirwa nehama kumaruwa uku.

Kache Mhofu - 30 October 2013

I bet they will blame this on sanctions!! They voted for him and did nothing when he rigged the elections, so they made their bed now they should sleep in it!Where is their ally China?? The west will bail them out and still be resented for it!

gutter poet - 30 October 2013

In election campaigns, Grace Mugabe was in Matebeleland saying she was mother of the nation, dishing out goodies and saying while she is mother of the nation nobody will be hungry, where is mother now?

Ethan Hawk - 30 October 2013

ZANU PF is they to destroy Zimbabwe. Its so sad while the majority is suffering a few obviously ZANU PF goons are living in luxury fattening their already fat pockets and surprisingly blaming sanctions for corruption,unaccountability and greediness. Now all the commercial farmers have from maize to tobbacco

Mafira kureva - 30 October 2013

uxakuxaku, not uxauxau!

manqoba mamamela - 30 October 2013

DR Kereke at least relieved Bikita with 300 tones recently

km - 30 October 2013

Simply unbelievable! This to be happenning in Zimbabwe in the 21st century and after 33 years independence. Lets forget our differences for now and lets face this problem together. Starving to death is no laughing matter.ZPF MDC work together for the sake of our less priviledged no matter how they voted.We can always fight later. There is plenty of time for that.

Johno - 30 October 2013

There is the answer to how MDC lost the election. Villagers have wised up. They were not willing to gamble with their vote knowing that their granaries were empty. If their ward would vote MDC, and MDC loses the election what would happen to them. History has shown that there is retribution. Did'nt the President himself tell the urbanites to get their services from MDC which they voted?

Munhu Chaiye - 30 October 2013

Turn to GOD, may HE have mercy on you all.

Darrell - 30 October 2013

We just want to see how Zanu PF will manage this one. You can rig an election but you cant rig the economy. Aiwa Tsvangirai is like a prophet. His words are very powerful which is why he is the current leader of Zimbabwe.

Exiled - 30 October 2013

This picture was used before in 2008. Therefore we should not be influenced by recycling stories and photos from 2008. Yes, as Zimbabweans , we should now be talking of growing food, it been almost a year since the last planting season. Surely, stocks are low now, the people should have starved around March and April. Not after the elections, as if, elections were planting season. Even if MDC had won, there would be shortage of food in the rural areas.

themba - 30 October 2013

The above photo omitted this caption, "FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2008 file photo, children and their parents pick corn kernels spilled on the roadside by trucks ferrying corn imported from South Africa, in Masvingo 239 kilometers (148.5 miles) south of Harare. As the season of hunger and disease"

themba - 30 October 2013

This only but the beginning with the way the climate has changed and Joseph Made in charge of the ministry responsible for food security in this country i forsee disaster.The government should introduce compulsory maize tonnage production for all beneficiaries fo the land reform programme and pay competitive prices to motivate the farmers.Yes tobacco nis a cash cow but honestly something should be done to alliviate hunger in drought prone areas.

Aluta continua - 31 October 2013

izvi hazvidi kutukana..we are a pple of one nation...its not time to point fingers at each other and work towards the development of our country

keith - 31 October 2013

You lot couldnt organise a piss up in a brewery!There should be no excuses for failing to feed the nation.The lad was taken back and how far has that got you?Surely your dimond money can finace a few small sacle farmers to save face?Unless someone else does it for you things will never change!

cloud - 31 October 2013

It's time to stand on your own feet, people of Zim. You were a proud nation, justifiably. Stand up to the bullies that you just voted back in. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Change only comes when you make it. You have the natural resources, farm your land - grow food and tobacco and get your self respect back.

Lost causes no more - 31 October 2013

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