Starvation stalks Zimbabwe villagers

2012-09-13 09:14

Buhera - Zimbabwean villager Connie Garandemo considers it an unusual day when she and her family can scrape together a third meal.

They grow runinga, a grain resembling sesame seed, on a small plot at their homestead in Garisanai village. But after erratic rains last year, their harvest filled only three buckets.

"We only eat two meals a day, once in the morning and then in the evening," said Garandemo, a 43-year-old mother of two from the south-eastern district of Buhera, one of the districts now facing acute food shortages.

The people of Buhera are among the 1.6 million of Zimbabwe's 13 million population that will require food aid during the lean season, according to the United Nations World Food Programme.

Formerly a regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe's food production has slumped in recent years, a situation critics blame on veteran President Robert Mugabe's land reforms which saw the forced redistribution of white-owned farmland to new black farmers, some of whom lacked the means, skills and experience to farm.

But the government blames the poor harvests on erratic rainfall patterns brought on by climate change.

The Garandemo family's morning meal is made up of slightly-ripe pawpaws peeled and sliced into strips that they boil after sprinkling with salt.

Their normal evening meal is the staple sadza, a thick cornmeal porridge, served with boiled pumpkin plant leaves or kale.

Both Connie Garandemo and her husband Kennedy are living with HIV and on antiretroviral therapy - a powerful regimen of medication whose outcome is improved by decent nutrition.

"The wells are dry"

The Garandemos were forced to barter three turkeys from their brood of six for bags of corn. Kennedy does odd jobs when he can, like mending garden fences and thatching houses, and gets paid in grain or second-hand clothes.

"He too is living with HIV but he has no choice but to go away for weeks at times to look for small jobs to get food," Connie said.

"Sometimes, I can't sleep at night thinking about my husband wherever he will be and wondering whether he is safe and in good health."

In the toughest of times, the family can only afford a single meal and the children have been forced to miss school, she said.

Village head Jaison Zinanga said food shortages were a perennial problem and villagers often came to beg for food, even when he was battling to provide for his own family.

"I have people coming to me asking for food. I help when I can. Sometimes I take them to the local councillor or the chief and ask them to look for donors.

"The situation is bad. The wells are dry, so people cannot grow their own food when the rains go."

He said some aid organisations had sunk boreholes in the villages, but these were few and far apart.

Signs of distress

The worst affected areas include vast stretches of the southern Matabeleland province, Masvingo, Mashonaland east and parts of Manicaland province, which borders Mozambique.

World Food Programme spokesperson Victoria Cavanagh said the severity of the food shortages had prompted the agency to begin dispatching food aid to needy areas earlier than it normally does in October.

"We will be starting earlier in September and we plan to meet the growing need of the people through a combination of in-kind [food for work] food distribution and cash transfers in appropriate areas."

Signs of distress started emerging earlier than in previous years, the food agency said, and by June its field officers started reporting "empty granaries, distress sales of livestock, reducing the number of meals per day and all these point to a dire situation".

"To cover our seasonal targeted assistance programme, it's going to cost $119m and at the moment, $87m of that is not yet resourced," Cavanagh said.

  • fredster.mania.5 - 2012-09-13 09:41

    I hope you read this Robert Mugabe. Your people are starving!!!

      tsietsi.gagai - 2012-09-13 16:55

      Thnx to Ian Smith, Magaret Thetcher and Tony Blair, their kith and kin included.

      francois.smith.7 - 2012-09-13 17:00

      How did Ian Smith or Margeret Thatcher or Tony Blair cause the famine? I thought that Zim was an icon of African solutions for African problems. I doubt the figure in the article however. Of Zim's 13 million people, 2 million are living in SA and that means that 4 million Zafricans need food aid. The fact is whether by Zanu PF rifles or by famine, it appears as if the people of Zim is sadly going to starve. If they were heroic, maybe it is time to face the rifles as then the world will wake up and hopefully assist. Until then, anchors aweigh for BOB!

      Maybi Maybi - 2013-04-25 09:07

      God forgive me if I'm but these people sometimes they need to think a bit maize will not work in such a climate you need irrigation systems otherwise grow sorghum which will thrive in such an environment nad can still make the "sadza" this people like so much.but noo! they want maize which is beyond their capacity those that are doing first any analysis of the sol and resources they have and then chose appropriatly the crops to plant are doing very well shame small minds are a liability to their owners

  • pieter0827006294 - 2012-09-13 09:42

    But no, Mugabe 'Africa's all-time greatest man'

      pieter0827006294 - 2012-09-13 09:45

      "Formerly a regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe's food production has slumped in recent years, a situation critics blame on veteran President Robert Mugabe's land reforms which saw the forced redistribution of white-owned farmland to new black farmers, some of whom lacked the means, skills and experience to farm." But "Kill the Boer" - Jacob Zuma/JuJu

      pieter0827006294 - 2012-09-13 09:55

  • gerhard.muller.988 - 2012-09-13 09:43

    Where's all those Mugabe/Malema supporters and their comments now? Or are they also busy trying to scrape together their next meal?

  • rick.kabose - 2012-09-13 09:43

    Perhaps the UN should airdrop food aid into Matabeleland, but the rest of zimbob must starve. Viva mugabes land reform,let them die for their stupidity. Same must happen here if they take the commercial farms.

  • tommy.jones.754918 - 2012-09-13 09:45

    Look Malema, and look good.

  • hein.huyser - 2012-09-13 09:48

    And you wonder why we do NOT want you around Malema? You and all the racists in this country need to go and visit old Mad Bob and sommer stay there

      francois.smith.7 - 2012-09-13 17:01

      OBE, I can tell.

  • andre.vandeventer.16 - 2012-09-13 09:50

    Sympathy for the hungry who voted a despot into power who stole white farms and chased them off their property? Not much!

  • Provence - 2012-09-13 09:54

    Maybe they should ask the white commercial farmers for handouts, ooopps sorry they stole the farms. Let's see, mmm ask your great freedom fighter, liberator, murderer, thief...what's his name.....Baas Robert.

  • kevin.moxham.3 - 2012-09-13 09:56

    Mugabe a sorry excuse for a leader - a racialist who can talk but do very little...!

  • John Peter Steyn - 2012-09-13 09:59

    Mugabe. Simply legend

  • tsietsi.gagai - 2012-09-13 10:03

    Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe once taught us the parable of the jackal and the bulldog. The latter boasted to the former about how fat and well fed he was whislt the former was thin and struggling for survival. The jackal asked the bulldog was was he having belt around his neck. The dog replied that it was for its master to control him. The jackal replied that thin and struggling as he may be but he was free and a master of his own fate and destiny. The decides when to eat, what and how much to eat. The dog's menu and times are determined by its master.\r\nTo this end Sobukwe taught us: we rather starve in freedom than to have plenty in slavery! Zimbabwe is free from western imperialist racist white domination.

      pieter0827006294 - 2012-09-13 10:17

      The menu is now determined by the West and imperialists because they supply the food aid! PS Tell that story to the hungry, I'm sure theyll disagree with you!

      Provence - 2012-09-13 10:22

      Yes tsietsi you are free to die! Gees you are clever, did you go to Mugabe university

      rick.kabose - 2012-09-13 10:45

      When i see a stupid post like tsietsi's i smile. The US supply's around 40 -50% of the worlds humanitarian food aid. The drought there is going to wipe out most of their aid as they must feed themselves first. Zimbo is going to starve.Fantastic. "The jackal replied that thin and struggling as he may be but he was free and a master of his own fate and destiny". Well so be it.

      richard.hall.35110418 - 2012-09-13 11:06

      I totally agree with you and will be leaving Imperialist South Africa immediately to be free in Zimbabwe, do you mind if i stay with you when i get there? You do live in Zim obviously?

      tsietsi.gagai - 2012-09-13 16:43

      Cyber-psuedo intelectuals often turn vulgar language when they fail to convince us otherwise. It is a fact that is free from white domination. Imperialist are invited and unwelcomed visitors to Afrika who have outstayed their vist. Why don't they take three ships and return to wherever they come from. Afrika does not need u!

  • sue.robertson.9083 - 2012-09-13 10:15

    And this will happen to South Afrians if Malema ( SA's Mugabe ) has his way.

  • brionyl.french - 2012-09-13 10:48

    This is where we heading if Zuma doesnt step down as President, and if Malema doesnt get arrested and sentenced to a long prison sentence with no medical specials... The world is about to sanction us.... which means no more growth at all... Apartheid never ended and thats the reality!!!

  • dnxumalo2 - 2012-09-13 11:20

    Hehehehe weve got funny people in South Africa especially the "others".The story says "But after erratic rains last year, their harvest filled only three buckets".I do not see how Mugabe could have predicted and stopped the rains from destroying food.2.If one starving family represents the whole country then Zimbabwe is way better than South Africa.Because at least they do have little food while we have people who die in shacks after not eating for months right here in SA. Victoria Cavanagh is doing just like all NGOs do.New Orleans got billions in AID but it never got to the people it was intended for.Today the NGO managers Cruise around in big cars in other countries. Cavanagh states that it's going to cost $119m and at the moment, $87m of that is not yet resourced," Cavanagh said.She decided to talk more about cash than bags of food.She decides not to mention bags but dollars.Mugabe can not tell the rain to fall even farmers here is SA do get dry seasons and bad harvest*Wink*

  • imbwa.nyoro1 - 2012-09-13 16:23

    no starvation if they vote me in IMBWA NYORO.1 instead of MUGABE

  • padurai.manjengwa - 2012-09-13 17:48

    All Zimbabweans know that the West won't let them starve - no matter how they insult the West or how they hate white people, the same white people just keep pouring food and aid in - can't you see the irony of it all!

  • binarycape - 2012-09-13 17:51

    what I find so awful about these African countries - and ours is no different really, is how charities from around the world do basic things like sink boreholes and dispense aid, while the heads and top nobs of these same countries have taken wealth OUT of their countries and invested on their own behalf elsewhere in the world, are paying themselves obscene amounts in salaries, bonuses, perks and so on when they could be sinking those same boreholes [for instance] themselves, out of the money they have milked from the country. It is a farce, and in the context of this huge land mass, an African one at that. And much as I don't have time for the likes of Malema, he is right when he says our top nobs are just getting richer and richer while the bulk of the people they are actually working for [they ARE OUR employees lest we forget, and someone needs to remind them of that] are getting poorer.

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