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‘Partisan politics breeding starvation’

Government has been accused of pushing millions into starvation and poverty through its populist and partisan politics, civic society organisations said yesterday as they joined the continent to celebrate Africa Day.
In commemorations to mark Africa Day in Harare, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) blamed the government for failing to honour its constitutional obligation on the right to food.
They also expressed concern over politicisation of food aid and abuse of agricultural funds by top government officials.
“This is a worrying development,” Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum chairperson Blessing Nyamaropa said.
“We also urge the government to stop the politicisation of food aid. It is the responsibility of the government to feed its people. The government should come up with food security and livelihood programmes aimed at empowering vulnerable communities so that their access to food and a balanced diet can be increased,” Nyamaropa added.
Today’s Africa Day celebrations are being held under the theme The Year of Nutrition, with rights activists imploring the government to address food shortages in communities.
Zanu PF supporters have on several occasions been cited as the main perpetrators of politicisation of food aid, working with traditional leadership structures. The ruling party has often denied the charges.
International humanitarian organisations estimate that about 8,6 million Zimbabweans will  be facing  starvation  by the end of the year, and may need food handouts following a poor harvest. Hunger is stalking the generality of the population with urbanites not spared by the crisis resulting from a harsh economic climate.
Ever escalating costs of basics, a weakening local currency and exchange rate distortions have further worsened the situation.
Government has been quick to blame businesses for allegedly conniving with the opposition and NGOs to incite Zimbabweans to take to the streets and cause civil unrest.
But, in her findings, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver said Zimbabwe was facing man-made hunger and starvation.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission chairperson Elasto Mugwadi said: “Millions of (Zimbabweans) lack access to adequate food and cannot afford a balanced diet due to extreme poverty. The situation has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, drought and other predicaments that have adversely affected people’s livelihoods, especially in the areas of nutrition and food security.”
In the past, NGOs have come to the aid of hungry Zimbabweans, providing food hangouts.
But the continued existence of NGOs is under threat after Zanu PF revealed plans to use its parliamentary majority to railroad the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill.
The Bill seeks to regulate operations of NGOs, which face closure if they fail to toe the line.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa shied away from responding to accusations that the government was to blame for hunger afflicting the general citizenry, saying Africa should focus on fighting foreign oppression.
“The Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services ministry further expresses unreserved gratitude to the AU and Sadc for initiating the now widely embraced 25th October Anti-Sanctions Resolution,” Mutsvangwa said in her statement to mark Africa Day.
“We are thankful that the continent finds value in our cause for the unequivocal removal of the illegal sanctions. This support resonates with the pan-African anti-colonial agency enforced through the Constitutive Act of the African Union,” she added. *_-NewsDay_*


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