Zim drought not yet a national disaster: Minister

2015-05-07 21:12

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Harare - Zimbabwe will not declare its drought a national disaster despite aid agencies saying the food shortages caused by it are significant, a cabinet minister has told parliament.

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said that private millers in towns and cities were importing grain and President Robert Mugabe’s government would meet the needs of vulnerable rural populations.

“We are not at a stage yet to indicate whether this is a disaster or not. I want to make that clear,” Made said, in comments contained in a transcript of Wednesday’s parliamentary proceedings seen by News24.

Made was responding to a question from an opposition Movement for Democratic Change MP, who wanted to know whether declaring a national disaster would attract support from the international community for Harare’s cash-strapped government.

Vast areas of southern and western Zimbabwe suffered crop failures this year due to lack of rain. The US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network said this week that food shortages could reach crisis levels by July if there is no food aid.

But Made said NGOs and the UN’s World Food Programme were already operating in the country, while private players were already importing grain.

“Already there are private companies that have indicated that they will be major players in supplying the urban areas,” Made said.

“We will be dealing directly as government with the rural areas as well as the vulnerable groups. So we are not yet there [in a state of disaster].”

The minister said earlier this week that Zimbabwe would need to import 700 000 tons of maize. Analysts say the imports will cost Zimbabwe's cash-strapped treasury around $224m.

Read more on:    un  |  robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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