We diverted funds for capital projects to buy grain: Mnangagwa
Government is now diverting funds meant for capital projects to procure grain in light of the current drought ravaging the country, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has disclosed.
The president said the government had to resort to such measures, as people could not be left to starve.
He, however, highlighted that doing so meant developmental projects across the country would be negatively affected.
Zimbabwe is experiencing its third consecutive drought for the year, reportedly described as the worst the country has seen in 40 years.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), food insecurity levels in Zimbabwe are the highest in a decade, as 7.7 million people are food insecure with the 2019 cereal harvest falling more than 50 percent short of needs for the 2019/2020 lean season.
WFP has already sounded the alarm, advising donors to raise more money to enable aid organisations to feed up to 45 million people in Southern Africa facing starvation.
President Mnangagwa said the country’s food security was under threat as reserves had run out, which necessitated the need for government to divert ‘all’ funds targeted for capital projects to procure grain.
“When we have a drought, our food security in the country is threatened because we have not produced enough to feed ourselves. Fortunately for the past two seasons, we had huge reserves which accumulated at the time I personally introduced command agriculture. We had huge surplus which we kept,” he said while noting that people did not feel the impact of the first drought that as there were reserves.
But under the current drought, Mnangagwa lamented the reserves were exhausted.
“This why we are now diverting all funds which had been targeted for capital projects to acquire procure grain to feed the people. This then affects the implementation of developmental programmes in the country because we need people to survive,” he said.
Meanwhile, the president announced that Uganda had offered to give Zimbabwe some of its grain.
He said he had already sent Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, Retired Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri, to Uganda to sort out the arrangements.
According to Mnangagwa, Shiri left Thursday bound for Uganda.
“When we were at Addis Ababa, (during the 33rd Ordinary Summit of the African Union that ended in Ethiopia last week) I was sitting with Heads of State when President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda says to me ‘Ah President Mnangagwa I understand you need maize in Zimbabwe, I have plenty of it, come and collect.’ I stood up from where I was sitting and said ‘Don’t shout,’” he joked.
Mnangagwa said he then discussed with Museveni who said Uganda had surplus maize.
“Yesterday (Thursday) I sent Shiri (to Uganda) and he’s meeting Museveni today (Friday) to arrange the procurement of grain from Uganda,” the president said.