Monday, May 20, 2013


Sata is a great man - Mugabe

By Farirai Machivenyika in Harare
Sat 18 May 2013, 14:00 CAT

ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe says President Michael Sata is a great man. Officially launching the Food and Nutrition Security Policy and its implementation plan in Harare on Thursday, President Mugabe said President Sata had been generous to Zimbabwe.

Zambia, President Mugabe said, will soon start delivering 150,000 tonnes of maize to Zimbabwe to alleviate shortages caused by the devastating drought of the past season while payment modalities for the grain would be discussed at a later date.

President Mugabe said President Sata made the pledge during a telephone conversation last Tuesday.

"When I was talking to him (President Sata) about what we had in mind about paying, he said no, no, no. He is a humorous man as you know," President Mugabe said.

"He said let us have the food in the stomachs of our people first and when we have the food in the stomachs, then we will talk about the price and I said 'that is a great man, he shares our affliction'."

President Mugabe said the national nutrition situation was of major concern to Zimbabwe as one in three children was chronically malnourished.

President Mugabe attributed the situation to several exogenous factors, among them recurrent and intermittent droughts and the effects of the West's illegal economic sanctions regime that curtailed government's capacity to support agriculture and fund social services.

"The official launch of the Food and Nutrition Security and its implementation plan, indicates government's strategic shift in addressing an issue which is not only of national, but global concern as well. It is a well-established fact that food and nutrition insecurity lead to a vicious cycle of malnutrition, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired mental and physical development, reduced productivity and poverty. In Zimbabwe, the nutrition situation is of concern to the government as one out of every three children is chronically malnourished.

Twenty-five per cent of all deaths of children under the age of five are attributed to nutritional deficiencies and 47 per cent of women are anaemic," President Mugabe said.

"Given the recent challenges of spiralling food prices and climate change, the food situation in our country has worsened as the number of people unable to meet their daily food requirements has increased by 21 per cent since 1995."

President Mugabe said the government had tried to mitigate the effects of droughts and sanctions through agricultural subsidies and schemes to assist farmers with inputs among others.

Zimbabwe received poor rains during the just-ended farming season, resulting in food shortages.

He, however, said land reform was pivotal in addressing food and nutritional needs of the country.

"The implementation of the land reform programme has become the cornerstone of ensuring food and nutrition security as the majority of people now have access to agricultural land. The government will continue to take measures that empower farmers, especially small-holder farmers and women so that they access cheap finance, knowledge on climate and the environment, smart farming systems, infrastructure and farm machinery," President Mugabe said.

He said the policy was crafted after government realised the need to come up with a permanent mechanism for responding to food and nutrition challenges following the devastating 1992-1993 drought, the worst to hit Zimbabwe.

He said the food and nutrition situation in the country required a multi-sectoral approach.

"Given its multi-disciplinary nature, the problem of food and nutrition cannot be adequately addressed by only one sector or institution, hence the need for a coordinated implementation mechanism. Key among the sectors which have a bearing on food and nutrition security are agriculture, health, education, social services, local government, transport, energy and environment and natural resources. The Food and Nutrition Security Policy, therefore provides a framework for a cohesive multi-sectoral action programme with a shared vision and strategy for improved food and nutrition security," he said.

The policy would be implemented by the National Taskforce of Ministers on Food and Nutrition Security chaired by Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
President Mugabe urged the private sector to assist government through provision of financial, technical and material support.

Meanwhile, President Mugabe urged communities to be mindful of the foods they eat and called for the revival of indigenous crops.

"There is a need to revive and sustain indigenous crops, knowledge and practices that promote food security such as zunde ramambo/isiphala senkosi concept so as to promote the spirit of self-reliance within their communities," he said.

The launch was attended by various Cabinet ministers, diplomats and representatives of UN agencies. - Herald

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