â€œTrue generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the â€˜rejects of lifeâ€™, to extend their trembling handsâ€¦..â€ (Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1970)
Any country which fails to feed all its citizens and minimise poverty through social security nets reflects a failure of leadership. Zimbabwe under the leadership of President Mugabe, despite having all the necessary resources and skills to ensure food security, has failed to do just that.
The BBC recently published a report where the UN is warning of the seriousness of the impending hunger in Zimbabwe. The UN estimates that malnutrition rates are likely to spiral out of control if nothing is done to prevent the crisis.
It is now estimated that close to 4 million people need food aid with an estimated 33,000 children in serious risk of malnutrition as we speak. UNICEF says that this is unprecedented in the last 15 years.Â It estimates that it needs US$21 million to avert the child malnutrition disaster.
Zimbabwe has declared a national disaster and requested a whooping US$1, 6 billion in assistance. Sadly all this now seems pocket change in comparison to the US$15 billion (if not more) of the missing diamond loot. It is reported that the UNDP has so far raised US$60 million and is seeking an additional US$130 million.
To us at PDP, this is another clear example of Mugabeâ€™s dereliction of duty despite us providing him with all the financial resources required to run an effective Office of the President.
As PDP, we contend here that hunger in our country is not inevitable and malnutrition is not a consequence of food scarcity, but a result of the way our economy has been organized and of the political choices we have made to address or ignore the causes of hunger and poverty.
That needs to change and accordingly, our new narrative as PDP says that in Zimbabwe, we can indeed grow enough food, we have done it before, we have the skills and the necessary land including adequate water resources, we know enough about agricultural economics, and we can definitely afford to provide the basic needs which protect every citizenâ€™s entitlement to an adequate, nutritious diet.
The politicisation of food security by ZANU (PF) is a historical practice that we need to reject. Our political and social arrangements need to change to an inclusive democracy which protects the basic rights of every citizen including access to adequate food and the deliberate alleviation of poverty regardless of political affiliation. That is what PDP will do and we have very clear policy objectives that seek to achieve just that.
Our economic blue print HOPE, clearly articulates this policy position and we do believe that yes, another Zimbabwe without hunger is possible but only under new political leadership that takes the issue of food security as a national security priority and protects the interests of its citizens.
At Independence in 1980 Zimbabwe had about 350,000 hectares of irrigated land and 700,000 tonnes food storage facilities at the GMB. Today we have less than 100,000 irrigated land and the GMB silos are empty, are all dysfunctional and in need ofÂ serious repair. Thanks to the monumental land reform disaster manufactured by ZANU (PF) in 2000 in its bid to maintain its political hegemony.
Agriculture output for 2016 is not promising either with expectation than Zimbabwe will struggle to produce a mere 400,000 tonnes while our annual needs are around 1, 4 million tonnes. This means we will once again have to import at least 1 million tonnes at a considerable cost from outside the SADC region which has an estimated 24 million tonne shortfall. Things are bound to get worse in the next couple of years unless we act now to revive agriculture.
We have also learnt that the government has closed ranks on the â€œbusiness opportunityâ€ to import maize into the country and as we speak, money is being made by the ZANU (PF) predatory cabal on maize imports. Profiting from the penury of masses has been and remains ZANU (PF)â€™s despicable culture.
Fair enough, climate change impact has had a part to play, but our incompetence and inability to plan ahead as a country is playing a more decisive part. Zimbabwe has no climate change response strategy at all and yet that is the most threatening global issue that will change world food security and availability of water resources. This is something we are working on now as PDP.
In conclusion, as PDP we are convinced that the critical issues facing our country can be resolved by good planning and the efficient use of our resources. What we are lacking in the necessary political leadership and a competent team to take our country forward. That is where we come in as solution providers.
Another Zimbabwe is possible!
PDP Secretary for Finance and Economic AffairsPost published in: Business