By Staff Reporter
MOST Zimbabweans nationwide are in urgent need of grain, Goromonzi West MP Biata Karimatsenga-Nyamupinga reported in Parliament.
Karimatsenga-Nyamupinga on Wednesday told the National Assembly Deputy Speaker Tsitsi Gezi that most citizens were struggling to put food on the table due to the El Nino phenomenon.
El Nino is a natural climate phenomenon in which surface waters of the central and eastern Pacific become unusually warm, causing changes in global weather patterns. The event forecasted for 2023-2024 is associated with drier-than-average rainfall.
In Zimbabwe, planting of staple grains was delayed due to high temperatures, significantly reduced rainfall and dry spells caused by El Nino. Experts have said this will severely affect yields.
In her contribution, the legislator asked, “I would like to know if the government is aware that there is hunger in the country and people no longer have food. If they are aware, I want to know what plans they have put in place so that food gets to the people quickly before they die of hunger.”
According to the leader of the Government in Parliament and Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, the country has enough food to feed the country. Still, the challenge was transporting it to needy areas.
Ziyambi responded, “Government has a lot of plans in place to ensure that people are not hungry. However, government is no longer just giving people food but we are giving people food through Pfumvudza/Intwasa inputs.
“We then follow up on inputs given to see if they were put to appropriate use. The Agriculture Extension Officers will also be helping us. We have realised that some people in the same community have food while others do not.
“Those in science and technology are now helping us so that we come up with a system and people do not just become lazy after being given inputs which they sell and then wait for their Hon. Member to give them food.”
Added Ziyambi, “What we know through our investigations is that some areas are drought-stricken and those are the areas that Social Welfare and AREX should identify and make sure the people who were indeed affected by drought get food.
“However, there are other people who have just become cry babies and are not being responsible for their actions,” said the minister.
Karimatsenga-Nyamupinga however told the minister that the weather conditions induced by El Nino coupled with a lack of top dressing fertilizer (Ammonium Nitrate-AN) led to a poor harvest.
“What we are saying is that the Department of Social Welfare should tell us if they are going to give people food because they are hungry?”
Public Service Deputy Minister Mercy Dinha agreed with the MP on the hunger situation.
“It is very true that maize was not being distributed though it is there. I think in the past days, we were just giving the maize to people in real need.
“From next week, distribution will commence because we did not have funding for the programme to start. Treasury has now availed $11 billion for the programme to start. So we are starting with the registration of the beneficiaries to enable us to distribute.
“People will receive grain and they will have their sadza. All Provincial heads have started the registration process and then they will follow up with the distribution of the maize,” Dinha told the house.
Lincoln Dhliwayo, MP for Chipinge East urged the government not to prolong the protocol or procedure on the issue as people were starving.
“Should the government wait for the formula while people die of hunger? As I speak now, 15 women came to my place looking for food and they said they would sleep at my place because they did not have any food.
“Can you skip that formula for now and just give people food? You can then use the formula some other time or next year.”