Zhombe villagers fret over imminent drought, biased food aid distribution

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By Leopold Munhende

VILLAGERS in Zhombe, Midlands province have called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC leader Nelson Chamisa to bury their differences sooner rather than later fearing the prolonged impasse between the country’s most influential politicians would impact negatively on the community’s hopes of surviving a recurrent drought that has spilled into 2020.

The villagers told recently that their survival hopes remained at a constant risk as food aid in the area was being parcelled out along partisan lines by pro-Zanu PF elements.

“Food is now scarce, money is nowhere to be found and without those two, there are no chances of survival,” said Oliver Dungeni of Boki Village under Chief Gwesela.

“Where food aid is distributed, there is a lot of partisanship involved, Zanu PF officials say “idla lapho ebotshelwe khona” (we will benefit from that which we have control over) leaving many at risk of hunger.

“Even those who are surviving through gold panning are feeling the pinch here.”

Edmore Samambwa, MP for Zhombe, has been fingered in acts of partisan distribution of government aid.

Zimbabwe is facing one of its worst droughts in over a decade.

The disaster has seen over 60% of the national population facing starvation, according to the United Nations (UN).

An extremely poor rainfall season has seen crops die while animals have also struggled for drinking water as dams have been drying up.

Thembani Maphosa, who has resigned himself to surviving on food aid if he gets access to it, told his maize crop planted for the 2020 harvesting season has already failed adding that no amount of rain could save it.

“We have never experienced this, be it lack of money, or definite hunger.

“We are now failing to understand whether it is about the government or general poverty within the people.

“Everyone now wishes that these two (Mnangagwa and Chamisa) just hold hands, agree and reduce our suffering,” said Maphosa.

For the first time since independence in 1980, humanitarian agencies have started distributing food aid in urban areas.

Already some 21 000 herds of cattle have succumbed to the disaster that is expected to stretch right into 2021.

Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) has put Zimbabwe on high alert for the current agricultural season and the next despite a few showers experienced in the country since the past week.