Lavish Mugabe birthday party plan despite famine

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In Summary

  • Zimbabwe is one of the countries bearing the brunt of a severe drought induced by the El-Nino weather phenomenon.
  • Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa said 95 per cent of the country had received below 50 per cent of normal rains this season, resulting in massive crop failure.
  • Mr Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe needed urgent help from the international community, local businesses, churches and civil society to feed about three million vulnerable people.

By KITSEPILE NYATHI

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe will be turning 92 on Sunday, February 21 and he will throw a massive birth party with a budget of close to $1 million Ksh102m).

The extravagancy could have created an impression that Zimbabwe was a self-sufficient country, but on February 8, President Mugabe’s government sent out a begging bowl for $1.5 billion to feed a quarter of its population facing starvation this year.

At the same time, Mugabe’s deputy, Mr Phelekezela Mphoko has been staying at one of the most expensive hotels in Harare with his wife and grandchildren, at the taxpayer’s expense. since his appointment in December 2014.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries bearing the brunt of a severe drought induced by the El-Nino weather phenomenon, that has resulted in low rainfall and very high temperatures.

Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa said 95 per cent of the country had received below 50 per cent of normal rains this season, resulting in massive crop failure.

HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

Mr Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe needed urgent help from the international community, local businesses, churches and civil society to feed about three million vulnerable people.

The previous week, President Mugabe had declared a state of disaster in most parts of the country’s rural areas due to the drought.

According to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC), the country was facing a deficit of 650,000 tonnes of maize for human consumption and 350,000 for livestock, but those figures were considered to be very conservative by donors.

ZIMVAC also noted that acute malnutrition in children had risen to 3.3 per cent in the previous season and that average household purchasing power, in terms of maize grain, dropped from 300kg last season to 244kg this year.

The government said there was a 60 per cent drop in cereal production and severe loss of household incomes due to reduced labour opportunities in the agricultural sector.

One of the major coalitions of donors — the ACT Alliance — has warned that the response to the crisis was lethargic due to the government’s poor financial position and Zimbabwe’s isolation by the international community.

“The current response is inadequate, and will get worse past March 2016 when the current response/interventions end,” ACT Alliance said in a recent alert. “According to WFP (World Food Programme), the current agricultural season is likely to be a lot worse than the 2014/15 season with 90 per cent chance of El-Nino induced drought.

“The national human food requirement deficit for the country is expected to surpass the 650,000 metric tonnes that the nation has struggled to meet under the current consumption season.”

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