Govt turns to NGOs for food aid

THE Zanu PF government has made a volt-face and extended a begging bowl to non-government organisations (NGOs) to assist in mobilising food aid amid reports that hunger has stalked most parts of the country, NewsDay has learnt.

BY CLAYTON MASEKESA

Manicaland, Masvingo, Midlands and most parts of Matabeleland provinces have been hit hardest by food shortages with some villagers reportedly surviving on wild fruits or one meal a day.

Once regarded as southern Africa’s breadbasket, Zimbabwe has turned into a basket case importing maize for the sustenance of its populace.

Agriculture minister Joseph Made recently said the government needed to raise $260 million for grain imports, conceding that most of this year’s maize crop was a write-off due to poor rains.

Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mwandiitawepi Chimene told stakeholders during an interactive meeting in Mutare recently that the government had realised that NGOs played a pivotal role in improving standards of living especially in rural communities.

“They (NGOs) have led and shown us the way and how it should be done. We should take a cue from them although we might have a cat-and-mouse-relationship. But, I want to tell them clearly that we will not, however, compromise on issues of patriotism,” she said.

“For Manicaland, I want to single out some NGOs for honours for the important initiatives in complementing the government efforts to improve standards of living in rural communities.”

Mandi Chimene

Mandi Chimene

Chimene appealed to NGOs to increase and broaden their scope of work in order to reach out to other marginalised communities following reports that over 2,5 million required urgent food aid.

Chimene pledged to depoliticise the programmes and clear all bottlenecks faced by NGOs in the distributing food aid.

“I want to pledge to smoothen the way for them. I know that they have been complaining of challenges at grassroots, but, I want to assure them that things have changed,” she said.

In the past years, some NGOs spearheaded developmental projects and provided food supplements to children in schools, but have since stopped doing so due to political interference as they were often accused of meddling in the country’s political affairs.

Chimene took the opportunity to warn her “detractors” and vowed to crush them for allegedly throwing spanners in her work.

“2015 was my first year and a learning curve, I am now better informed and equipped and to tell you the truth, 2016 will not be a stroll in the park. It will be a different year,” Chimene said.

“I will be at the steering and in charge and anyone who dares to disembark from the moving train, will be crushed. The train cannot change course to avoid you, you will be a victim, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

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