Masvingo – A donation of bananas and cassava by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe last week at a rally in a small village in Masvingo province has been slammed by opposition parties as "an insult to locals", NewsDay reported on Thursday.
The parties said it was "senseless and insensitive" of Mugabe to donate bananas to a starving people, whose staple food was maize meal sadza.
The newly formed Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF), headed by former vice president Joice Mujuru, said it was "ridiculous that Mugabe saw it fit to give people bananas".
Zimbabwe was reportedly facing widespread food shortages, with the situation said to be critical in the country’s rural areas.
At least 16% of the country's estimated 13 million population faced food insecurity, according to New Zimbabwe.com.
"You don't give people bananas and tubers, as if they are sick patients in a Gutu hospital. What they need is their staple maize. Mugabe is out of touch with reality," ZimPF Harare spokesperson, Jealousy Mawarire was quoted as saying.
According to the Voice of America, Mugabe made the donations at a rally at Chamisa Primary School, shortly after paying his condolences to the late Chief Gutu Amos Tasirai Masanganise, who died three years ago.
However, Public Service Minister Prisca Mupfumira defended the move, saying the banana consignment had come as a personal gift from one of the president’s closest allies, Equatorial Guinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
Mupfumira said the nonagenarian decided to carry the consignment with him to Gutu, as he had a scheduled rally in that area.
Several Zimbabweans took the issue to social media networks, with some saying that this was a badly calculated move.
@GutuObert I hope they won't tell us that those bananas cost them $15 bil therefore we must shut up!
— Moses Chamboko (@Chimwaura) May 18, 2016
Bananas and cassava.....lol
— Obert Gutu (@GutuObert) May 18, 2016
In a banana republic, the president donates bananas!!!!
— Moses Chamboko (@Chimwaura) May 19, 2016
Isn't it ironic that the rep of Zim under Canaan Banana was actually not a Banana republic but under RGM it .....nvm.— Gargamel (@weirmouth18) May 16, 2016