Cape Town – President Robert Mugabe has reportedly assured Zimbabweans living in drought-stricken areas that they won’t starve, saying relief food would be available to feed them.
The Chronicle quoted Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Cain Mathema as saying he had been sent by Mugabe to tell people that they will not die from hunger.
Mathema was speaking during a Zanu-PF rally in Tsholotsho ahead of by-elections on June 10.
"The president sent us to tell you that all those from areas that didn't receive adequate rainfall in the last farming season, the government will not let you starve. He said no-one will die of hunger," Mathema was quoted as saying.
US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) reported last week that parts of southern Zimbabwe were set to suffer significant food shortages this season.
Vulnerable rural populations
FEWSNET said some homes in rural areas in the south of the country had produced "next to nothing", partly due to the late onset of rains and then a prolonged dry period.
If no food aid is forthcoming, these households will likely be in crisis as early as July, the report said.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, however, said the country will not declare its drought a national disaster.
Made said private millers in towns and cities were importing grain and government would meet the needs of vulnerable rural populations.
The BBC reported on Sunday that the Zimbabwean government was pleading for international aid in the face of food shortages.