June 9, 2006

Tsvangirai presents "roadmap to democracy" / Food shortages becoming critical, warns parliamentary body

Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has presented a "roadmap to legitimacy" - an ultimatum to the government demanding a new constitution, internationally supervised free and fair elections and an acknowledgement it was responsible for the current "national decay". "Should the government refuse to give in to our demands, we will be left with no option but to implement the [Movement for Democratic Change] congress resolution, which is to engage in peaceful democratic resistance," Tsvangirai stated. The government has repeatedly warned that any protest action would be illegal and bring an immediate crackdown.
The former labour leader underlined that the main MDC faction he leads was not "calling for the violent toppling of the Zimbabwean government, but we want people to be able to exercise their democratic right to express their discontent". Tsvangirai's more militant faction held a congress in March, when delegates agreed on a "short sharp programme of winter discontent" to register their anger over the country's political and economic crisis.

In the meantime, a recent government fact-finding mission has revealed that the country’s measurements to its food insecurity was too little and too late. Presenting the results of an inquiry by the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare parliamentary portfolio committee into the drought relief distribution programme to the House of Assembly, committee chairperson and ZANU-PF Member of Parliament, Mabel Mawere, said distribution delay had left some people on the brink of starvation. Warning that maize distribution was urgently needed, Mawere added: "the food is procured by the government from national production or from South Africa - the problem is that it can take four to six months for maize grain to be transported" to those in need. "Lack of fuel is the real problem."

The Herald newspaper quoted the portfolio committee as saying, "Drought relief food was taking too long to reach the intended beneficiaries" because of the "erratic supply of grain at the Grain Marketing Board depots [state-run outlets], compounded by the shortage of fuel to transport the available maize." The Herald reported that "in Chiredzi District [southeastern Zimbabwe], 77.000 households are in need of food aid; maize was scarce", and in "Chivi District [southeastern Zimbabwe] 31.469 households required food aid", which meant about 1,573mt of maize had to be delivered every month. However, Mawere said the amount of maize received could not cover the needs: Beitbridge District, for example, had requested 256mt of maize but had only received 100mt. (Zimbabwe Online, South Africa)


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