MDC slams government's drought emergency response

HARARE - Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has called on government to declare a statewide drought emergency, slamming the rather lackadaisical attitude of the Zanu PF government in handling the impending severe food shortage.

This comes amid a crippling El-Nino-induced drought characterised by shrinking rivers and widespread crop loss this year.

It also comes as the European Union (EU) and UN have urged President Robert Mugabe to urgently declare a drought emergency in Zimbabwe, a move that will allow the parched state to seek international aid as it grapples with what could turn out to be the driest year in recorded State history for many areas.

“As a party, we would like to call upon President Robert Mugabe not to waste any more time before his government declares a State of emergency,” MDC spokesman Obert Gutu said yesterday.

“It doesn’t make good planning sense for the government to wait until people start starving before it treats the impeding drought with the seriousness that it obviously deserves.

“The regime has not yet declared a state of national emergency in order to promptly and effectively harness the necessary resources that are now urgently needed to avert mass starvation.”

A few days ago, the State-controlled media reported that the government has arranged a $200 million credit facility with a certain foreign import-export bank.

This comes amid reports households particularly in the southern provinces of Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South are seriously food insecure.

The current rain season has been nothing short of a disaster. Zimbabwe is facing the horrifying spectre of an unprecedented famine largely caused by the El Nino weather conditions coupled with a very poor disaster management system in the country.

The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee expects that over the next three months, 1.5 million Zimbabweans will be short of food.

Zimbabwe imported maize from Malawi, Zambia and South Africa in 2015, but with these countries also experiencing drought, the government is now looking to import the staple from Brazil.

“Even though it is now abundantly clear that the country will need to import maize to feed about three million people, there are no concrete plans that have been activated to ensure that our grain silos are timeously re-stocked,” Gutu said. “We note, with trepidation, that GMB grain silos at all major depots such as Lion’s Den, Chinhoyi, Aspindale and Banket are still empty and in a serious state of disrepair.”

Gutu said Mugabe must stop globetrotting and attend to the dire food crisis back home.

“President Robert Mugabe should also try to spend more time in the country attending to pressing national issues rather than travelling from one foreign destination to another,” he said.

“Zimbabwe needs a hands-on administration that is prepared to bite the bullet and take immediate corrective action to avert any further bleeding of the comatose economy.”

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