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THE United Nations has issued an urgent appeal for US$86m to feed about 1.5 million Zimbabweans facing starvation this year.
The appeal was issued Monday by UN Resident Coordinator in Zimbabwe, Bishow Parajuli.
“The food security response plan, developed through a consultative process, requests $132 million, with $46 million so far pledged leaving a shortfall of $86 million to support 1.5 million people affected by food insecurity in 52 districts,” said Parajuli.
The development comes at a time the country gives the pretences of a nation flush with cash.
Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has spent thousands of dollars in tax-payers’ cash lapping it up at a luxury Harare Hotel since he was appointed President Robert Mugabe’s deputy in December last year.
And, while the food crisis is said to largely affect the country’s southern regions, Mugabe’s wife, Grace, last week headed east to Chimanimani where she donated goodies worth millions of dollars, including suits for traditional chiefs.
The legislator for the area is Zanu PF’s Munacho Mutezo, a former deputy energy minister targeted for ouster because he allegedly backed a coup plot against Mugabe.
Again, the opposition claims that the 91-year-old leader has, this year, also spent about $50million – 80 percent of the money needed in the UN appeal – travelling the world as chair of the African Union and the regional SADC grouping.
Meanwhile, Parajuli commended the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department for International Development (DFID) in the United Kingdom for their joint $43 million pledge to the overall $132million appeal.
He called on other humanitarian and development partners to “join hands in responding to the funding gap.”
The food crisis has been blamed on poor agricultural production due mainly to prolonged dry spells in the southern and south-eastern parts and poor rainfall distribution patterns across the country
The country’s debilitating economic downturn, under Mugabe’s watch, has however worsened the situation.
The government earlier this year began providing meat from wild animals to prisoners after they rioted over their meatless diet.
Zimbabwe’s economy went into meltdown in 2000 after Mugabe ordered the seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms, leading to the collapse of the agriculture-based economy, once the region’s breadbasket.
Mugabe denies responsibility for the economic crisis. He blames sanctions imposed by the West to, the Zanu PF strongman insists, punish Zimbabwe for its land reforms. source-newzimbabwe