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Zimbabwe dismisses UN Food findings

by Staff reporter
08 Mar 2020 at 08:21hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT has dismissed findings by the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food that food shortages in the country are man-made saying the situation is a result of a combination of factors including sanctions and climate change.

In her preliminary report at the end of her visit, the Special Rapporteur, Ms Hilal Elve, who was invited into the country by Government last year on a fact-finding mission, concluded that the country was on the verge of a major man-made famine characterised by partisan food distribution and repeated droughts.

Presenting Government's response to the rapporteur's findings during the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland last week, Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabiza said the report failed to capture the correct picture.

"Madame President, indeed the Special Rapporteur correctly observed that the country faces economic challenges due to the continued imposition of illegal sanctions, which has hampered the realisation of socio-economic rights," said Mrs Mabiza.

"This is being compounded by successive droughts and the devastating Tropical Cyclone Idai. These factors have negatively impacted on the food security of our citizens particularly the vulnerable."

Mrs Mabiza accused the Special Rapporteur of exaggerating the scale of food shortages and insisted the shortages were not man-made.

She added that Ms Elve's field visits were limited to places at the extreme end of the food situation spectrum.

"The Government of Zimbabwe wishes to reiterate that the Special Rapporteur's view that the majority of the population is suffering from food insecurity is grossly exaggerated.

"Statistics to that effect are clearly illustrated in our submitted response. Furthermore, the assertion that Zimbabwe faces a man-made food crisis is a misrepresentation of our food security situation, which is a direct result of sanctions and the effect of climate change as correctly observed by the Special Rapporteur herself.

"While the Government acknowledges that there is a need for food aid, it is, however, of the view that the population sampled by the Special Rapporteur was limited and less reflective of the broader context of the food and agricultural situation in Zimbabwe.

"Her findings were limited to a few field visits, which at a minimum, are at the extreme end of the food situation spectrum."

The Special Rapporteur, said Mrs Mabiza, failed to take into account safety nets and measures being implemented by the Government and how they are impacting on the enjoyment of the right to food.

Government is implementing programmes that include the targeted food handout scheme for food insecure households, distribution of subsidised maize meal, providing agricultural finance and inputs and importation of maize.

Mrs Mabiza said Government was importing grain to boost food security.

"Regarding sanctions, it is a historical fact that they were imposed by some Western countries in retaliation to Zimbabwe's decision to launch the land reform programme in early 2000 to correct the skewed land tenure system inherited from the colonial era," she said.

"These sanctions are illegal, unjustified and violate Article 41 of the United Nations Charter.

"As a result of these sanctions, in the past two decades, Zimbabwe lost potential revenue which includes: bilateral donor support; loans from multilateral lending institutions; denial of lines of credit; and the regression of infrastructure development."

She added: "Madame President, the Government also brings to your attention other unfounded assertions by the Special Rapporteur, which include alleged partisan distribution of food aid and diversion of proceeds from mineral sales respectively.

"In respect of food distribution, the Government has put in place a structure for the transparent selection and distribution of food relief composed of public servants and NGOs.

"Regarding proceeds from the sale of minerals, revenue is directly transmitted to Treasury in a well-documented and audited structure."

Source - sundaynews