- Last Updated on 25 June 2012
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The decision by ZANU PF to politicise a legitimate land grievance through a partisan and parochial fast track last reform programme 12 years ago has been at the epicentre of the food crisis in Zimbabwe. In its bid to woo voters after losing its first national poll during the February 2000 constitutional referendum to the democratic opposition ahead of a national election in June 2000 land that ZANU PF's land reform programme was driven by its quest to stay in power than to meet the national needs of the country by sustaining national food production. Since the inception of this legitimate but misguidedly run fast track, Zimbabwe has been having perennial food shortages. The situation was compounded by the parcelling of land to the political oligarchy in ZANU that were not interested in farming but wanted to use the land as holiday resorts. As it stands this year provinces such as Midlands, Matebeleland North, Matebeleland South, Masvingo and some parts of Manicaland are facing serious food shortages. This summer, five million Zimbabweans are said to be in need be of food aid because of poor government added to the lack of adequate rains.
Farming is the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy, but agriculture has been crippled by the combined effects of drought and controversial government land reforms. The forceful removal of white farmers from their farms by ZANU-PF has devastated the country and farmlands have now been rendered useless because of lacking agricultural expertise.
Statistics from the World Food Program (WFP) indicate that more than one million Zimbabweans are currently in need of food aid following the continuous dry spell that has been affecting the national produce. The crop assessment by the government, this past farming season has shown that 1500 000 hectares of the maize crop was planted but because of lack of rain, half of it has been a write off. This leaves the country with only less than one million hectares of the planted maize crop against the national grain requirement stands at two million tonnes of maize per annum. Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, has since Mugabe's land reforms largely survived on handouts from international food relief agencies.
The 2011 Human Development Report, by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) late last year in 2011, listed Zimbabwe at 173 out of 187 countries. It is also listed among the 45 nations ranked under the 'Low' human development title. In light of ZANU-PF's unreasonable push for early elections, operations of humanitarian NGOs are being severely restricted through illegal bans and through sustained harassment and persecution of civil society activists. With food and other donations from allies, notably China, ZANU-PF hopes to have a monopoly over food distribution in this drought year in a way that it vainly hopes would gain it votes. The decision to let people go hungry is yet another attempt to use food as a political tool to woo voters ahead of an election.
It is important that the inclusive government de-politicises food distribution for selfish political benefit.