- Southern Africa
- Food Security - Politics
Zimbabwe to suffer food shortages ahead of elections
Non-governmental organizations, which have for the past decade been saviors for starving Zimbabweans, now face a ban on their operations in the build up to crucial elections next year.
Aid agencies have been viewed too critical of long time ruler President Robert Mugabe’s leadership.
The US-funded Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) has since warned that the government was likely to block critically needed humanitarian support for the hungry and other marginalised groups as campaigning for polls gathers momentum next year.
FEWSNET said in its latest Zimbabwe Food Security Outlook published Sunday, November 7 that the most likely food security scenario in Zimbabwe was “a deterioration of food security status across a greater part of the country with the exception of the central area which is traditionally a grain surplus region”.
“An increased number of people in other parts of the country are likely to become moderately food insecure throughout the lean season and outlook period from October 2010 to March 2011,” the early warning system warned.
It however said planned humanitarian and government food assistance programmes are likely to stop further deterioration of the crisis and prevent widespread starvation in the country.
But it said Mugabe’s administration is likely to block critically needed humanitarian support for the hungry and other marginalised groups as campaigning for polls gathers momentum next year.
“If conditions become politically volatile, humanitarian agencies might be called to stop their support,” FEWSNET said in its latest update on Zimbabwe.
According to the National Nutrition Survey, about 36 percent of children below the age of five suffered from malnourishment hence there was great need of expedited national and household food security response from the government and its strategic partners.
Food Agencies say close to a million Zimbabweans are estimated to require food aid until the end of the year and the number could rise by over 40 percent to about 1.3 million people before the next harvest in March 2011.
Mugabe’s government has a history of shutting down all NGO field operations accusing them of using aid distribution as a pretext to carry out political work for his political foe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
However, the government fails to provide food after kicking out food agencies.
Mugabe has indicated calling an early election in 2011 at the end of the lifespan of a two-year coalition government he was forced to enter into with Tsvangirai in February last year.
Shortages of seed and fertilizer have regularly hampered planting since the “land reforms” started and international relief agencies have had to step in with food aid.