By Dylan Murambgi
Harare, October 21, 2016 – ZIMBABWE’S government says it has enough food stocks to feed over 4 million citizens in need of food assistance following a devastating drought caused by the El Nino induced weather.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister, Prisca Mupfumira told parliament on Wednesday the number of vulnerable citizens surged from 1,5 million as per Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) August last year to over 4 million.
She said government was in the process of identifying more citizens in need of food assistance while further urging MPs and provincial administrators to help identify more citizens in need of food aid.
“…We have since realised that even the 4 million we have, the figures are increasing, hence we have now launched communication to all the provinces and yesterday we had all the Provincial Administrators, all the Provincial Welfare Officers and we were supposed to have Provincial Ministers and only one came,” Mupfumira said.
“We were directing them that they must go out to their constituencies and make sure that they add more people to the registers. That includes the elderly, the orphans, the disabled and the chronically ill.
“These are the normal vulnerables but we have since realised that because of the drought situation which we are in, there are more people who are not normally venerable who are in need of food assistance.”
Mupfumira was responding to a question by MDC-T proportional representation MP, Thokozani Khuphe who had asked what government was doing to bridge the gap between the 1,5 million citizens identified as vulnerable by ZIMVAC and the 4 million who are in fact vulnerable.
Mupfumira added: “So, we are now saying that we need to update the register. That is the message that I am bringing to all of you to assist in making sure that the registers given to Social Welfare are all inclusive so that we update. I am sure you are all aware that we have adequate stocks.
“As of last week, we had about 320 000 tonnes of maize available and we have also received 19 000 tonnes of rice which is going to be incorporated into the food mitigation programme.”
Mupfumira also dismissed opposition and NGO claims the Zanu PF led government was in the habit of distributing food aid along partisan lines.