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Govt moves to avert drought-induced hunger

Drought relief mitigation has been extended by Government for another month in the wake of the long dry spells this season, which have seen crops in some areas suffering from moisture stress and a likely low harvest in some districts, Senate heard last week.

The drought relief, which was expected to end this month has been extended to allow Government and its agencies to identify and compile names of families requiring food aid until next year’s harvest.
Public Service Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Lovemore Matuke was responding to Mashonaland Central Senator Alice Chimbudzi (Zanu PF) in the Senate, who asked what mitigatory measures the Government was taking given that preliminary indications suggest lower than expected harvests owing to a prolonged dry spell, something that has adversely affected potential harvests.
Deputy Minister Matuke said President Mnangagwa had directed that drought relief food be extended.
“Indeed we have noted that we are heading for a drought in some parts of the country despite the fact that other areas will have good harvests.
“We have started as a ministry identifying people who might be in need of food aid. This is after President Mnangagwa directed us that we extend drought relief to vulnerable persons in line with his policy that no one should die of hunger.
“The window of provision of food was supposed to end this month but has now been extended to next month. This will allow us to compile names of people who will require food aid. We expect the number of people who need aid to rise,” said Deputy Minister Matuke.
Responding to another question, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, Felix Mhona, said the Government had taken over road rehabilitation in urban areas after opposition-run local authorities failed to do their job.
Government felt it prudent to take over urban roads and restore the glory that once existed since the roads in urban areas have suffered neglect over a long period.
“Our listening leader, President Mnangagwa said we cannot continue to have this. So we will be taking over urban roads this year after years of neglect. Our engineers are already looking at it and very soon we will be moving in,” said Minister Mhona.
Some Senators complained about one of the two contractors engaged to rehabilitate Seke Road. They said the road leading up to Maruta shopping centre from Harare city centre was professionally done but the firm that took over the construction work south to Chitungwiza did a shoddy job.
Minister Mhona said he was aware of the concerns but absolved the firm saying what it did was consistent with what they had agreed given the resources available.
“It is true that the road from the city centre to Maruta is smooth but it is different from Maruta. This does not mean that money was abused. They used different methods,” said Minister Mhona.
He said more resources were used on the first part of the road given the volume of traffic that uses it.
Turning to the railway infrastructure, Minister Mhona said the Government was in the process of identifying a partner to resuscitate the railway network.
He said Government was determined to restore the glory, which the railway infrastructure used to enjoy.- Herald


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