A serious food crisis looms in parts of Silobela where villagers are going for days without proper meals because they have long run out of food stocks from last year’s poor harvest.
Zanu PF losing candidate for Silobela constituency Douglas Tapfuma told NewsDay more than 400 families were facing starvation unless government intervened as a matter of urgency.
“The food situation here has become dire. Villagers are struggling to get proper meals with many now surviving on wild fruits and mangoes which are barely ripe,” said Tapfuma.
Provincial governor Jason Machaya was yesterday summoned to a meeting by Zanu PF leaders in the area, in a move to pressure government to act quickly and start food shipments into the area.
“I can confirm that we will be meeting with the governor to discuss the food crisis in parts of Silobela. In fact I am on my way to the meeting,” said Tapfuma.
Villagers told NewsDay they were surviving on one meal a day. An SOS has already been sent to government although there are fears that Zanu PF could hijack the programme and use food aid to campaign ahead of a possible election next year.
“We are suffering especially after several NGOs who were working in the area withdrew following the start of the rainy season. My children eat mangoes and wild fruits in the afternoon and only get sadza in the evening,” said Faith Tambala, a mother of three from Donsa village.
MP for Silobela Anadi Silulu said he was worried about the looming starvation in his constituency and was making frantic efforts to get government to act.
“The situation is bad although nobody has been reported dead yet,” Silulu said.
“But we cannot wait for the situation to get to that level. I have approached relevant ministries for interventions, but it seems resources are being channelled through party structures from the governor’s office. It is clear Zanu PF wants to gain political mileage through a food crisis. This is bad politics.”
Meanwhile, local shop owners and other traders are now cashing in on the food crisis and have pushed the price of mealie meal from $4 up to $10 for a 10kg packet. Silulu has castigated this behaviour and called on businesspeople to stop ripping off the poor villagers.
“This is robbing the poor to fatten the pockets of the rich. It is not business,” Silulu complained.
“It’s profiteering and it should stop. Zimbabweans should get together and be able to assist one another in times of need instead of making profits from a national disaster.”