Hunger keeps children from school

No grain since July in Umguza district
UMGUZA - Children are staying away from school as hunger takes its toll in rural Matabaleland North Province.
Villagers are going for weeks without their staple maize meal and blame the lack of food on the state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB). In the Buda resettlement area in Umguza district, people complain they last received maize from the GMB in July.

“It was not even enough for all of us as some were left out. The GMB has totally failed to supply us with grain, while local shops are also always empty. As a result, we have had to rely on wild fruits and hand-outs from relatives, who buy grain or mealie-meal in town,” said villager Sihle Nkomo.

However, the villagers said they were risking their lives in accepting the staple food from their relatives in the cities, as they were sometimes accused by war veterans of getting the food from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

“If they learn that that is how you are surviving, the war veterans storm your home and take away everything and there is nothing you can do about it, as they are literally ruling this place. If they see you carrying either maize grain or maize meal, they also confiscate it for their own consumption,” said another villager.

“Very few children are still going to school due to this situation and that has really affected their future. Most of those are secondary school pupils, who should stay at school, about 35 km away from their homes, yet they will be having no food whilst there. Others have even given themselves away in marriages to better resourced families to escape this hunger,” said a local headman, who requested not to be named.

Some of the villagers said they were not getting food from humanitarian organisations, as staff at these non-governmental organisations were being harassed by the war veterans and some traditional leaders.

Industry and international Trade Minister Obert Mpofu, who is also MP for the area, confirmed the hunger, but said government was trying to get food assistance to the villagers to improve the situation.

“We know that some areas in the district have been affected by hunger due to very low rainfall in the past agricultural season and we are doing a lot in trying to help the villagers. We are currently speaking to some NGOs so that they will move in with assistance to those affected by this hunger,” said Mpofu.

President Robert Mugabe’s government has also accused NGOs of trying to effect illegal regime change in Zimbabwe, alongside the MDC, Britain and America. – Bayethe Zitha

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *