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Matebeleland villagers appeal for govt intervention

by Staff reporter
11 Mar 2024 at 11:34hrs | Views
VILLAGERS in Matebeleland region are appealing to the government to immediately intervene and save them from starvation as the food crisis reaches alarming levels.

Several villagers have already lost livestock due to the El Niño-induced drought.

About three million people in Zimbabwe are in dire need of food assistance.

Tsholotsho ward 20 councillor Soka Ngwenya said they lost over 1 000 cattle last year alone, adding that the situation would be worse this year.

"Last year we lost over 1 000 cattle due to drought. This year it will be worse; we are now worried that we will lose the few cattle left. We appeal to the government to assist us with stockfeed and preserve our source of income. We have realised that this year's drought will be worse than last year," Ngwenya said.

"Ward 20 has been the breadbasket for Tsholotsho as it used to supply the Grain Marketing Board with maize, but this year is different as farmers are the ones who are now appealing for help."

He said government aid through the Social Welfare Department was only catering for a quarter of villagers in his ward.

"There are 1 800 homesteads in this ward; most of them need food assistance. NGOs can also chip in in this fight against poverty. This is the only ward out of 20 which has more Mopani worms compared to others but there is none this year. Villagers used to do barter trade, a bucket of Mopane worms in exchange for a 50kg mealie-meal bag," he said.

Bulilima ward 18 councillor Land Ndebele said the irrigation system in their area has been affected by power cuts making life difficult for farmers.

Chief Mathe from Matebeleland South province called on the government to speed up the Social Welfare food programme before the situation worsens.

He said the food aid registration process was marred by partisan politics and underhand dealings.

"Farmers here did not receive meaningful rainfall due to drought and villagers are registering for the government food distribution programme. We cannot rule out partisan politics in the whole exercise, but we urge those involved in such unwarranted behaviour to stop it forthwith," Mathe said.

The traditional leader said most villagers in his area of jurisdiction were not employed, adding that they survived on farming.

"Villagers survive through gardening as they have a ready market in Bulawayo, they get their water from manmade wells that are located near the mountains, but the situation is getting bad this year as the wells are drying up,'' he said.

Plumtree ward 17 councillor Mpendulo Ncube said a heatwave had affected the water table with boreholes in his area already drying up.

"The dry spell has been upon us for too long, most crops are now a write off. Some boreholes have dried up due to changes in the water table. We would like to thank some NGOs for coming in handy to assist vulnerable groups," Ncube said.

"We have World Vision which is assisting with food such as cooking oil, beans and sorghum, there is also another one which gives the elderly and pregnant women together with those who have small children amounts of up to US$110 per person per month."

Source - newsday