Nqobile Tshili Chronicle Correspondent
OVER 30,500 elderly people and children in child-headed families are in dire need of food aid in Bulawayo, amid concerns that metropolitan provinces are being overlooked when it comes to the allocation of food relief.
This was said by the Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Nomthandazo Eunice Moyo yesterday.
She said a lot of people are starving in Bulawayo, but the government’s relief efforts seem to be concentrated in rural areas. “The truth is that in Bulawayo, we’ve got a large number of people who are seriously affected by the drought. We’ve over 30,500 households with elderly and child-headed families who can’t fend for themselves. They’ve no finances to buy food,” she told The Chronicle in an interview.
The Minister said Bulawayo needs about 1,500 tonnes of maize per month to assist vulnerable people.
She said there is need for deserving urban dwellers to also get food aid.
Moyo said government departments must not discriminate individuals based on where they live as the drought was a national disaster.
“Drought is affecting the whole nation and this why it has been declared a national disaster. I believe that if something has been declared a national disaster, it doesn’t matter whether one stays in a rural or urban set up. Drought affects everyone indiscriminately,” said the minister.
She said last week there was a meeting of government departments and provincial ministers in Harare to discuss the drought situation, but ministers from Bulawayo and Harare were not invited.
“It’s critical that when discussing about food aid related issues everybody who represents the nation, must be included,” she said. “I believe we should’ve been called as we represent people so that we can also give them our side of the story. Drought is affecting so many people even here in Bulawayo.”
Moyo said the situation was made worse in Bulawayo by thousands of job losses due to company closures, while those employed were not being paid enough.
“I’m appealing to the ministers involved to consider Bulawayo in the allocation of food aid so that our people can also access grain during this drought period. The social welfare can confirm the figures because we’ve discussed the figures with them. We believe that people should be assisted in accessing food. I pray that in the near future whenever government is rolling programmes to assist its people, Bulawayo will be considered,” she said.