Over 1, 3 million people face starvation by March next year unless careful drought mitigation programmes are put in place, Acting Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe has said.
This follows a serious drought that has ravaged most parts of the country because of a poor rainy season experienced last year. Many people, especially in the southern region of the country, failed to harvest anything.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai early this year embarked on a drought assessment programme commissioned by government.
The programme was meant to assess which areas throughout the country’s 10 provinces were in dire need of food aid.
Government has put in place a programme to fund the movement of grain from high-surplus areas to those in dire need of food.
Addressing government officials at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo College during the launch of the 2010-2011 National Food Deficit Mitigation Programme yesterday, Khupe said government was committed to ensure no one died from hunger.
“It is my hope that with the open participation of all stakeholders, government and donor partners, this programme will be as he was not at the scene when it happened.
“I just received a call from someone who told me something was happening at head office. I was not there when it happened so I cannot give you the details you are looking for,” the mayor said.
Harare police spokesperson Inspector James Sabau said he had not yet received information to that effect but would comment after receiving the reports.
In Chiredzi, eight of the villagers have since been arrested in connection with the assault while Muzenda, Nyabadza and the 10 lands committee members who sustained injuries were taken to Chiredzi District Hospital where they were treated and discharged.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tinaye Matake confirmed the incident and the arrest of the villagers whom he said would appear in court soon.
“We have arrested eight suspects following the skirmishes at Nuanetsi Ranch. They will appear in court soon facing assault charges,” Matake said.
Sources within the police force said the arrested villagers were locked up in lice-infested cells for attacking the most senior policeman in the district.
Villagers, who are settled at Lundi Block, ran riot after they were ordered to leave the farm by the lands committee.
The villagers — who occupied the farm at the height of the chaotic land seizures from white commercial farmers — claim they were assured they would not be removed from the farm by Zanu PF officials whom they campaigned for in previous elections.
The villagers also questioned the rationale of displacing them in favour of Rautenbach. They said such a move would defeat the whole purpose of the land redistribution exercise.
“President Robert Mugabe told us to stay here, now these people come here and they tell us that we will be evicted. Where will we go? We will not tolerate that. After all, the land is being given back to a white person.
“Can you imagine that?” angrily queried a settler who preferred not to be named for fear of victimisation.