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Mnangagwa's disaster management under scrutiny

by Staff reporter
08 Apr 2024 at 10:45hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa's US$2 billion humanitarian assistance plea has raised eyebrows as it is more than what regional countries suffering from El NiƱo-induced drought have asked for.

Southern Africa is currently battling a severe drought with countries putting in place measures such as bans on maize exports.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared a national disaster last week to address the drought crisis, adding that over US$2 billion was needed to feed hungry citizens.

He said at least 2,7 million people were expected to be food insecure with available statistics showing a grain deficit of 680 000 tonnes.

Zimbabwe has a population of 16,32 million people.

Last month Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera declared the drought a state of disaster calling for more than US$200 million in humanitarian assistance.

Chakwera said 2 million households had been directly impacted.

According to the World Bank's latest statistics Malawi has a population of 20,41 million.

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said 84 out of the country's 116 districts had been affected, with one million hectares of maize destroyed.

Zambia currently sits on a population of about 20,6 million.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the fact that the government is seeking more assistance than its neighbours with bigger populations raises questions about the country's disaster management and response systems.

"Aid must come to complement what you already have. But if we are seeking aid to provide all our disaster response needs, then we are not well positioned or structured to respond to disasters," Saungweme said.

"We also have a highly corrupt environment, and if no proper accountability mechanisms are in place, this will end up like the COVID-19 aid heist we experienced."

Another political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said: "Six million starving villagers over a 10-month period is both a logistical and nutritional nightmare.

"Zimbabwean government is generally prone to misinformation and exaggeration."

Meanwhile, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Zimbabwe said it was working in partnership with other United Nations agencies on projects to enhance resilience for vulnerable households.

"By focusing on different aspects of resilience, FAO seeks to empower local communities, improve food security and foster sustainable development in the face of complex challenges due to climate change and economic crisis," FAO said.

Source - newsday