mployment of about 80%, the majority of Zimbabweans cannot feed themselves.
The cost of even the basic staple, mealie meal, is beyond the reach of all but a small percentage. A poor rainy season in the southern half of the country, together with widespread shortages of maize and fertilizer, has exacerbated the situation.
Nobody loves Zanu (PF) any more. The party survives only through a patronage system. As widespread corruption and economic mismanagement take their toll on the once-vibrant and diversified economy, the cake shrinks smaller and smaller. There is less and less space at the feeding trough for party supporters.
But still elaborate plans are made and precious foreign currency expended to secure food stocks to be used to bribe rural communities in particular to vote for Zanu (PF).
The international community has signalled on many occasions its willingness to help the suffering people of Zimbabwe. This is their chance.
The Mugabe regime must not be allowed to use food for votes. The majority of Zimbabweans are under-nourished, many are sick. They are therefore extremely vulnerable to this brutal tactic, which has been used so effectively in the past by Zanu (PF).
The bottom line is that the international community can and must provide food aid to these people – without allowing it go through the official channels.
Admittedly this poses something of a challenge – but it is not insurmountable, surely?
Churches and civic groups are still operative and active throughout the country. They are the best-placed to handle food distribution fairly. Of course, the regime will resist this with anti-west rhetoric, bureaucratic red-tape and many other obstacles.
The international community must not take no for an answer. Pressure must be brought to bear on SADC leaders to force Mugabe to allow independent food distribution. This is a moral issue.
An entire nation cannot be held to ransom by one man any longer. Children must not be starved, their growth stunted, their health compromised for a lifetime, because of a tyrant’s political whims.
We expect churches, in particular, to speak out on this with one voice, with a very loud voice.
“Come let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds… He will revive us that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD, let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear, he will come to us …” Hosea 6