By Staff Reporter
MBERENGWA South MP, Alum Mpofu has called on the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) to intervene on the plight of starving villagers in his rural constituency.
Mpofu told NewZimbabwe.com weekend he recently met with some businesspeople in his constituency to discuss possible ways in which the millers group could deliver subsidised mealie meal to the area.
GMAZ has embarked on a programme to deliver stocks of subsidised roller meal under a zonal system that allows people to purchase the subsidised product within their localities.
The idea is aimed at limiting the movement of some poor Zimbabweans who would often find themselves violating the Covid-19 lockdown regulations through travelling far from their localities in search of the staple.
Under lockdown regulations, Zimbabweans, except for those offering essential services, are supposed to stay indoors as part of government measures to limit the spread of the highly infectious disease.
Mpofu said some businesses in Mberengwa have taken advantage of the lockdown period to hike prices of basic commodities beyond the reach of many.
He said the GMAZ programme would come as a relief to villagers in the area.
“This week we have concluded negotiations and arrangements with some of our businesspeople so we can receive and distribute subsidised mealie meal and sugar from GMAZ and relevant manufacturers for distribution in the constituency,” he said.
The legislator said the drought situation in the area has created scarcity in essential products leading to businesses hiking prices on goods which were on demand.
“We have a disastrous crop situation. This has largely been a factor of climate change conditions that are characterised by unreliable and unpredictable rainfall patterns.
“This was compounded by the poor conditions of the drought animals which were weak and emasculated at a time they had to plough.
“Farmers tried to put more hectarage under traditional crops. This was not done boldly enough and the harvest has been sparse,” he said.
The situation, Mpofu added, has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is regrettable that quite a majority of retailers saw this situation as an opportunity to hike prices very steeply.
“Even the professionals in the community are affected because of the prohibitive prices and scarce food products such as mealie meal,” he said.
Villagers, Mpofu said, were now relying on the social welfare for survival.
“However, we have had to respond to this situation.
“First of course is that the main source of livelihoods in such dire situation is our state welfare system.
“During this time, one has had to work closely with government welfare agencies to ensure that the people get the food welfare services government does provide.
“What is key is that government and the President have stated clearly that no one in Zimbabwe can be left to die of hunger even in this dire period.
“To this end, the people have been receiving support from the Social Welfare Department.
“In addition, we have been working closely with government development partners like the World Food Programme to provide food services,” he said.