ZIMBABWE – The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, says he will soon approach the international community to assist Zimbabweans who are food insecure and blamed his rival, President Robert Mugabe, for downplaying the unfolding humanitarian crisis.
President Robert Mugabe has declared the food crisis a national disaster and appealed for $1.6 billion to feed 3 million people – about a quarter of the population – after the worst drought in more than two decades damaged crops and killed thousands of livestock.
But Tsvangirai and some analysts say the declaration of a food emergency came late and is putting many Zimbabweans at risk.
In an exclusive interview with VOA Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai said, “We are not seeing government expressing its urgency and inviting those who can help to help. I am going to write to various agencies, urging them to act urgently.”
Tsvangirai added, “We need a national response that will determine the extent of the crisis. There seem to be no urgency, there seem to be no focus, food distribution is haphazard, it’s partisan in certain areas.”
An estimated three million Zimbabweans are now food insecure and one of the hardest hit areas is Masvingo province.
Tsvangirai visited the province this week and told VOA Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the situation in the province is desperate.
But addressing the media in Harare, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also the chairperson of the cabinet Food Security and Nutrition Committee, said the hunger and drought situation experienced in Zimbabwe is under control.
The government says it has secured 150,000 tonnes of maize from Zambia and 500,000 tonnes from Ukraine.
Mnangagwa said Harare has secured funding from the Exim Bank of China and procured more than 650,000 tonnes of maize.
He added that logistics are underway to transport the maize.
Mnangagwa noted that “we are aware of the drought situation and government has moved in to purchase maize from friendly countries.”