Written by Shekunah Zaitun Salanje
ZIMBABWE-The country formerly known as Africa’s bread basket has been under crisis for more than a decade. Facing serious shortages in food commodities, high rate of inflation and unemployment amongst other challenges.
Organizations like the World Food Program (WFP) and the UN have been on the ground for almost a week .The UN has appealed for $331-million to help feed about a third of Zimbabweans who are starving and in need of food aid due to drought and an ailing economy.
At a launch of the appeal WFP executive director David Beasley said 2.5 million Zimbabweans were “in crisis emergency mode, marching towards starvation”. The situation in the country was worsened by Cyclone Idai which hit Eastern Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi early this year. The cyclone affected 570 000 in the country and thousands have since been displaced.
The Government had been working tirelessly before the disastrous Cyclone hit in the month of March ,feeding and providing grain for about 760 000 households.
Meanwhile, countrywide protests broke out after President Mnangagwa announced 150% increase in the price of fuel in January with unarmed civilians killed and injured by soldiers. The price increase as well as 2% tax on electronic transactions was introduced and set to ease shortages ,but no change has been noted as long queues have been observed at fuel stations and shortages of basic commodities like cooking oil have been seen.
The current ban of foreign currency including the US Dollar and sole use of the RTGS Dollar has also fueled the situation. The prices of basic food commodities like bread increased by 70 %. Zimbabwe Electricity Supply (ZESA) power cuts are the order of the day. ZESA tariffs have since increased by 300%. yet still It does not seem to get better for the nation as tollgate and licence fees are also seeing an increase of 400 %.
Salaries at times have been delayed into the hands of employees for months and an increased rate of unemployment is making it difficult for many Zimbabweans to afford even basic food necessities.
The expectations of a better Zimbabwe after the Robert Mugabe era have since been cut off. While many have relocated to neighbouring countries like South Africa and abroad, many remain hopeful and await Divine Intervention. The much awaited rains would make a difference in the current food shortage situation and as ZESA has also reportedly said it will result in less load shedding.
Shekinah Zaitun Salanje