THE fact that Zimbabwe will be one of the sub-Saharan countries which will endure extreme temperatures due to the El Nino weather phenomenon was not anything new to anyone in government and its development partners.

The United Nations agencies including other non-governmental organisations made loud calls that Zimbabwe faced imminent famine due to the drought that characterised the 2023/24 agricultural season.

This was known as far back as last year when the leadership was toasting to a bumper harvest.

The statistics were there for all to see with development agencies indicating that at least 1,3 million people faced imminent food insecurity going into the agricultural season. The number has jumped to 2,7 million and is expected to rise further.

Two-thirds of the country’s population is also estimated to be faced with an imminent food crisis with the situation also predicted to worsen in the post-harvest period.

We expected President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government to plan to avert the lurking crisis but alas this was not to be. He only sprang to action yesterday declaring the drought a state of disaster.

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Zimbabwe’s strategic grain reserves have failed to adequately cater for the country’s needs.

Predictably, government has failed to come up with a clear programme that can save the people.

The government has been assuring the nation that no one will die of hunger saying that it will cover all the people facing imminent starvation.

But, honestly, nothing on the ground shows what the government is doing to protect the citizens.

Unlike his counterparts in Zambia and Malawi, Mnangagwa delayed announcing his plans to fight the impending disaster.

Zambia and Malawi declared the drought national disasters paving way for intervention from aid agencies.

Zimbabwe, as usual, played the stoic child ignoring imminent danger while putting the lives of its people at risk.

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera announced that the country needed more than US$200 million in humanitarian assistance.

In Zimbabwe, much of the country’s crops were decimated by the dry conditions hence we might need more funding.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) late last year said most southern African countries were on the brink of a hunger crisis because of the impact of the ongoing El Niño weather phenomenon. It said there were already nearly 50 million people in southern and parts of central Africa facing food insecurity even before one of the driest spells in decades hit.

There was no need for the government to pretend that all was well and then suddenly announce that there was a mop-up exercise to encourage farmers to deliver their maize to the strategic grain reserve.

The farmers are aware of the need to keep their grain and the paltry US$390 per tonne will not do anything to entice them to change their stance.

Stoicism will be Zimbabwe’s downfall because we should have started preparing for the impending food crisis way before it reached the levels being experienced across the country.

However, it seems the man who was supposed to lead the process was drowned in celebrations after being named minister of the year.