By News24, AFP
Bulawayo – Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has reportedly hinted that the Zimbabwean government is struggling to feed thousands of people as hunger continues to grip the southern African country.
According to Southern Eye, Mnangagwa said the Zanu-PF led government was facing serious challenges to secure relief food for the estimated 600 000 people in dire need.
This comes as the World Food Programme (WFP) said in August that around 1.5 million Zimbabweans were expected to go hungry this year after a dramatic fall in maize production.
Reports indicated that Zimbabwe needed to import at least 700 000 tons of maize from neighbouring countries to avert a food crisis, which analysts said would cost the country's cash-strapped treasury around $224m.
Mnangagwa, who was commissioning the Mtshabezi-Umzingwane pipeline in Mtshabezi, Matabeleland South, said the country had so far secured maize from Zambia.
"We have secured 50 000 metric tons from Zambia and so far 16 000 metric tons is already in Bulawayo Silos. We have over 162 000 metric tons of maize now in the country and this will help us to avert hunger. The government is still going around other countries to seeking assistance so that people do not die of hunger," Mnangagwa was quoted as saying.
Britain and the United States recently launched a programme to rescue at least 650 000 Zimbabwean victims of hunger, with the two countries pledging to provide up to $43m for food aid.
Zimbabwe has, since 2000, struggled to feed its people due to droughts and president Robert Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks, which badly affected commercial agriculture.
At least 4 000 white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms.Mugabe said at the time the reforms were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances.
The land seizures were often violent, claiming the lives of several white farmers during clashes with veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation struggle.
Mugabe’s critics often blame the programme for low production on the farms and national food insecurity.