POLITICAL analysts have accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of misleading the world at the Feed Africa Summit in Dakar, Senegal, early this week where he said Zimbabwe was food secure.
They said his remarks were in contrast with the situation on the ground, where the World Food Programme (WFP) estimates state that 5,7 million people in Zimbabwe urgently need food aid.
Just before Mnangagwa left for Senegal, his government through the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, had indicated that the country was in peak hunger season and the number of people queuing for State food handouts had increased by 54% to 3,7 million from December last year when only 2,4 million people registered for government food aid.
In his presentation to other African heads of State in Dakar on Wednesday, Mnangagwa said the country had sufficient wheat stocks after a bumper harvest and might even export the commodity.
He, however, said the biggest challenge during this agricultural season is fertiliser, which is mostly imported from Russia and Ukraine.
“So we said, because there is climate change, how many hectares of the land can we put under irrigation to produce two million plus tonnes to feed the nation? We determined how much yield a hectare has, hence we knew the figures and we did that, and we are food secure,” Mnangagwa said.
His remarks have torched a social media storm with citizens accusing him of using the Dakar opportunity to spread his Zanu PF propaganda.
Political analysts said Mnangagwa’s remarks contradicted the WFP, which estimates that 38% of Zimbabwe’s population is food insecure.
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Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said: “These are lies. If you check Fewsnet and WFP reports, you can sense that our county exists on the borderline of food insecurity. Costs of inputs double every year due to currency problems, and farmers have no borrowing capacity due to high interest rates. Climate change makes rain-dependent agriculture risky. Zimbabwe is yet to recover from the effects of violent property rights violations which left millions of acres of arable land in the hands of incompetent (Zanu PF) party surrogates.”
Another political analyst Effie Ncube said: “I think Mnangagwa was just grandstanding and using the opportunity for propaganda. What he did is misleading the world.”
However, economist Prosper Chitambara said the county was making progress on food security.
“The country is making a progress towards food security. We have seen the successes in winter wheat production last year,” he said.
“However, I think there is a lot of work in terms of investments, completion of dam projects that government is embarking on, and we need to upscale our investments on irrigation. We need to put more land under irrigation and improve the rural economy.”