Government allocates $11bn to restart food distribution program

The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare will resume the food distribution program across the country now that they have received ZWL11 billion to start the program.

This announcement came during Parliament’s Wednesday oral questions session without notice, where Members of Parliament (MPs) inquired about the government’s awareness of widespread food insecurity within the country.

The current El Niño weather phenomenon has negatively impacted crops across the nation.

Goromonzi West MP, Biatah Nyamupinga-Karimatsenga, specifically asked about the government’s plans to expedite food distribution to prevent hunger-related deaths.

“Is the government aware of the widespread hunger and lack of food in the country?” she questioned. “If so, what plans are in place to ensure prompt food distribution before people die of hunger?”

She highlighted the impact of El Niño on crops, stating: “Last year’s El Niño affected crops before they could mature, and people didn’t receive adequate agricultural inputs . This means a poor harvest is inevitable. We ask the Department of Social Welfare to clarify their plans for providing food assistance to these hungry individuals.”

In response, Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Mercy Dinha, confirmed the availability of maize but acknowledged delays in distribution due to funding constraints.

“Previously, we only distributed maize to those in dire need. However, distribution will begin in the coming weeks now that Treasury has allocated $11 billion to initiate the program,” she affirmed.

Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi also added acknowledging the government’s plans to address food insecurity.

“However, the government is no longer simply distributing food. We are providing food assistance through Pfumvudza/Intwasa inputs. We then follow up to ensure proper utilisation of these inputs with the help of Agriculture Extension Officers. It has become evident that food availability varies within communities.”

He noted that the Ministry of Science and Technology is collaborating with the government to develop a system that discourages dependence on handouts and incentivizes responsible use of provided inputs.

“Investigations have revealed drought-stricken areas where Social Welfare and AREX should prioritize food distribution to genuinely affected individuals. However, some individuals have developed a dependency on handouts, neglecting their responsibilities,” Ziyambi stated.

However, MP Lincoln Dhliwayo urged the government to prioritize immediate food distribution rather than adhering to established procedures.

“Should the government wait for formalities while people starve? Today, 15 women approached me seeking food and expressed their intention to sleep at my residence due to hunger. Can you bypass the system temporarily and provide immediate food assistance? You can implement the regular process later,” he pleaded.

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