Skip to comments.Hungry Millions Denied Food By Mugabe's Ban
Posted on 01/03/2003 5:39:22 PM PST by blam
Hungry millions denied food by Mugabe's ban
By Peta Thornycroft in Murambinda
Robert Mugabe is refusing to let Zimbabweans import food, a decision which is condemning millions of people to shortages, United Nations officials said yesterday.
More than 5,000 people gathered at Viriri School, Murambinda, 140 miles south of Harare, to collect hand-outs of corn, beans and oil from the World Food Programme.
Patience Mukondomi, 31, was not given any. As a teacher she has a job and therefore does not qualify for aid. "There is nothing in the shops. We have money, but there is no food to buy, please sell us some," she implored officials.
But Luis Clemens, a WFP spokesman, explained that doing so would be against the rules. "We cannot sell food, however much we want to help people," he said.
"We would be able to feed many more people if the government allowed private importation of corn."
The Mugabe regime has awarded a monopoly on trading in grain to a government agency and there are countless verified reports from opposition supporters that they have been denied permission to buy this food.
At the WFP distribution centre another desperate woman, with a baby on her back, said her husband was in the army 40 miles further south and so she too did not qualify for food aid.
"We are starving," she said. "Even if my husband sent money, which he doesn't because I am the second wife, there is no food to buy. My neighbour helps me. Without her we would be dead."
The neighbour is one of three million people receiving food from WFP, half of those on the brink of starvation. Mugabe undertook to feed the rest, but has been unable to find foreign currency to import anything but a trickle of grain from South Africa.
"Private importation of corn would change the situation dramatically," said Mr Clemens. "We have made the offer to facilitate the importation of food, but there is no change in policy."
He said the WFP would need to continue its Zimbabwe operations beyond April, when harvests are due.
Few crops have been planted by the inexperienced farmers who replaced more than 4,000 white commercial farmers evicted in the past three years under the government's land reforms.
Teresa Madamombe, 41 a mother of five, said: "This is the first time in our lives there is no food to buy. In 1983 and in 1992 there was drought, but we could buy food, but not now, and I do not know why."
She said she knew nothing of the destruction of Zimbabwe's commercial agriculture. "We do not get news here. We are far from the commercial farms. Have they all gone?"
A thin young man overheard the conversation, sidled up and whispered: "There is no food because of politics. You must know that. Industries which make food have closed down now that the farmers have gone.
"We can't talk politics because there has been violence here, but we do know why we have no food."
I am sure that OBL will soon be there feeding the hungry. And building day care centers, no doubt.
Thank you so much for your wonderful letter last week and I apologize for my lengthy delay in responding. I have been battling with my publishers (who are in South Africa) to get my books listed and stocked with Amazon for a month now. They are reluctant to do so and I wonder Matthew if you and some of your friends could assist (or perhaps through the Free Republic web site)? Could some of you simply email Jonathan Ball Publishers and ask that copies of African Tears and Beyond Tears be sent to Amazon.com to make American purchases easier and faster. I would be so grateful for help on this one. The man to mail is Geoff Bonney: firstname.lastname@example.org . Perhaps if there are more people than just me complaining they will begin listening !
I am sad but not surprised to hear you say that we shouldn't be holding our breath for US assistance for Zimbabwe. It is so utterly tragic that things are falling apart and we are slipping back into the dark ages almost un-noticed by the rest of the world. For now all I can do is what I do and so I just keep on writing about it ever hopeful that more and more people will hear of the horrors of living in a dictatorship.
Thank you again for writing Matthew and I hope you and your family have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas.
With love and best wishes, Cathy
I will buy two copies each of these books, AS SOON AS I CAN FIND THEM!@!
By the way, got a PO Box yet? Check is still on my desk.