HARARE - Zimbabwe is to import food in the wake of a severe drought, acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Wednesday.
Responding to Goromonzi MP Beatrice Nyamupinga’s question in Parliament on the nation’s state of preparedness in terms of food security, Mnangagwa said the country would import food.
Mnangagwa said government had been informed of the looming famine well in advance by the meteorological department.
“Chekutanga ndechekuti avo vanotiudza nezvemamiriro ekunze vasati vaudza nyika, vakatanga vaudza isu vatongi kuti ndizvo zvavari kutarisira. Takagara musangano wedu nezuro tichiongorora kuti todii, kuti toshuzha here zvatakatarisana nezhara tikawirirana kuti toshuzha, tikapa mubati wehomwe yenyika basa rekutsvaga mari. Saka musatye tiri kugadzirira nyaya iyoyo. (First and foremost those who give us the weather forecasts had informed us as the government that this was their forecast before they went public about it."
"We had our Cabinet caucus yesterday (Tuesday) and we looked into that issue and we were thinking about the security of the country in case of a drought. We agreed that we were going to be importing food. We tasked the Finance minister to mobilise financial resources in anticipation of a drought. So, do not be bothered, we are making preparations),” Mnangagwa told the House of Assembly.
Opposition MPs were not convinced with Mnangagwa’s response, demanding that he explains to the nation where the funds would be obtained given that government was reportedly broke and saddled with debt.
“I have heard the vice president say that he has tasked the minister of Finance and Economic Development to mobilise financial resources but the problem that we have is that our farmers have not been paid for the produce that they delivered to the GMB,” said Kambuzuma MDC MP Willias Madzimure. “Where is the money now going to come from to import food when we are failing to pay our local farmers?”
Acting speaker of the National Assembly Mabel Chinomona said Madzimure’s supplementary question had not emanated from the original question which had something to do with the weather report.
The leader of government business told lawmakers that government had made efforts to seed the clouds to enhance rains but this failed.
He was responding to Zanu PF MP David Chapifika who wanted to know if it was not advisable for government to make use of the $400 000 set aside for cloud seeding.
Mnangagwa also indicated that Cabinet had been briefed by Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere that when effort to seed the clouds were made, they did not always coincide with the presence of clouds.
“Cloud seeding is only done when the clouds are there,” he said. “If there are no clouds, we cannot seed them. When the clouds were observed, we seeded.”
According to a rural livelihoods report released in September last year by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Zimvac), about 600 000 people in rural areas have been in need of food aid since January this year.
The report cited Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Mashonaland West as the provinces with the highest proportion of food insecure households.