BY REX MPHISA
BEEF farmers in southern Zimbabwe are staring disaster in the face as their livestock is succumbing to harsh effects of drought, a Beitbridge legislator has said.
Hundreds of cattle have already been reported dead while some are trapped in mud as water sources dry up and borehole levels sink.
Beitbridge district has already lost about 1 000 cattle, although figures could be higher.
“The current drought has brought misery to the people of my constituency. Boreholes are getting dry. There is no grass. Livestock are perishing daily,” Beitbridge East legislator Albert Nguluvhe (Zanu PF) said yesterday.
“Even the few beneficiaries of cattle will lose out and will go back to square one. We need grass or feeds to our area to save livestock.”
Nguluvhe said he himself had lost about 15 beasts and more were dying.
Government gave Matabeleland South farmers, whose mainstay is livestock rearing, cattle for restocking, but the project may not yield desired results.
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At Lesanthe Dam, some 70km north-east of Beitbridge town, several cattle were reportedly stuck in mud in futile attempts to get to water.
Nguluvhe urged farmers to destock, but decried exploitative beef traders capitalising on the situation.
“They are paying badly, taking advantage of the situation,” Nguluvhe said.
Headman Toteng Mazibeli, of Whiunga some 120km west of the border town said the situation was grave.
“We need food for people, cattle and wildlife or this will be one of the worst disasters even surpassing 1992,” Mazibeli said.
Already, households benefiting from drought relief are at 10 200 and increasing.
A government official in Beitbridge said more families were being registered under the re-introduced food for work programme.
Currently, the Social Welfare Department is listing potential beneficiaries.
Urban dwellers are included.
Zimbabwe is experiencing one of the worst droughts in years.
The widespread food shortages will be a test for President Emerson Mnangagwa’s Second Republic, already facing several challenges including fuel shortages, painful load-shedding which has crippled industry, government departments and all critical areas.