Elizabeth Tsuro Midlands Correspondent
THE Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs, Jason Machaya, has said some depots have run out of grain in the province leaving most families in a desperate situation in drought stricken areas such as Mberengwa, Zvishavane and Chirumanzu. Cde Machaya said they were now waiting for the province’s next food aid allocation. He said the province had received 3,000 metric tonnes of maize against a monthly requirement of about 5,000 metric tonnes.
Worse still, some of the grain was looted while it was at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots before reaching the intended beneficiaries and investigations in that matter are expected to start this week. “There are some depots that no longer have maize. Areas like Zvishavane and Mberengwa are in desperate need of food aid,” said the Minister.
Machaya said some cattle farmers could not afford to purchase stock feed being sold at GMB depots under the supplementary feeding programme launched by the government to rescue cattle in areas that have run out of pastures.
On grain, he said there were allegations of abuse of food aid and farming inputs by people in authority in the province which his office had received. While not giving the exact tonnage of food aid and farming inputs that have allegedly been stolen at depots across the province, Cde Machaya said a taskforce, including the police, would investigate the matter.
The government set up distribution points in Gweru, Mvuma, Mberengwa, Zvishavane, Kwekwe, Shurugwi, Gokwe North and South. “We’ve received reports of abuse of farming inputs and food aid in the province. These are just allegations which we’re going to look into as a matter of urgency,” he said.
Cde Machaya said as at December 31 last year, at least 40,000 people in the province should have received food aid.
Cde Machaya said Gokwe South had the highest number of people in need of food aid at 10,880. The government has since come up with immediate measures to fight food shortages, including opening up the importation of maize and maize meal to private importers, while the movement of grain from areas with surplus to those in need will be allowed.
At least 1,5 million people are in need of food aid in the country following the drought that has hit southern Africa.
President Robert Mugabe has said no one will starve as the government is on top of the situation.