Zimbabwe Review

Reflections on Zimbabwe

Why does UN have to plead for food aid on behalf of Mugabe govt?

Posted by CM on August 6, 2007

Whatever the Mugabe government may say about “owning the economy,” nothing negates those claims of acting to facilitate this in its controversial policies than the now perennial food deficits.

Year after year since 2000 we have had excuse after excuse for declining agricultural productivity, and more maize imports from countries like South Africa, and recently even Malawi and Zambia. Now there has just been a report that this season’s wheat harvest will be worse than the low figure that was expected. This is due to several reasons, including frequent power cuts that made regular, planned irrigation impossible.

Every year some official has said some variation of “no one will starve, we are on top of the situation and will feed the needy” but this has rather predictably always turned out to be cruel bravado. Every year food aid has had to be sheepishly accepted, even from countries that are officially considered enemies.

This year is no exception. The UN World Food Programme has just issued an international appeal for US$118 million to urgently assist more than 3 million Zimbabweans facing severe food shortages. An IRIN article says $70 million has already been received by the WFP for Zimbabwean food relief, most from the US and the EU, but much more was needed. A joint FAO/WFP assessment in June resulted in the prediction that “people at risk will peak at 4.1 million in the first three months of 2008 – more than a third of Zimbabwe’s estimated population of 11.8 million.”

The situation is dire, there is no question about it. As this reality is unfolding, Mr. Mugabe has no shame at all in accepting an invitation to attend an international talk shop  in Malaysia (reports say he was “warmly received” by delegates from the other 20 countries attending ) on how to tackle poverty! He would certainly have a lot to say on how to create poverty, but I wonder what contributions he would make to discussions on how to reduce it.

A distant observer has a painful but very legitimate question about the WFP’s plea for donations to ease hunger in Zimbabwe. In a post entitled “Why is the UN pleading for food for Zimbabwe?”, the anonymous blogger writes :

Why is the Government of Zimbabwe not doing the begging for food aid? Why aren’t they paying for the food? Why do they appear completely uninvolved?

His own answer : The simple answer is that they really don’t give a crap about this problem or their people.

As part of a longer commentary, he says “This problem will never be solved as long as their own Government does not consider it a problem. For the moment, they don’t.”

It is impossible to refute his conclusions, based on the evidence. The implications are shameful and staggering.

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