21 February 2002

Hungry villagers accuse Mugabe of not delivering promised food

Villagers in Masvingo province have accused President Mugabe of making empty promises as no food aid has been delivered to them. Mugabe's nationwide presidential campaign which began a fortnight ago took him to Bikita, Chivi, Gutu and Chiredzi where he assured thousands of hunger-stricken villagers his government would give them food aid to ensure no one died of hunger.

But thousands of villagers in the province are surviving on one meal a day while others survive on tree leaves and edible roots. Musavengana Zhou of Gutu said Mugabe did not realise the urgency of the matter when he promised the people food. He said: "We want to see the food right now. It has become evident that the President gave us a false promise because up to now nothing has been done." In Chiredzi, where there have been no harvests for two consecutive seasons, villagers accused Mugabe of "playing with their lives". "If the government cannot give us free food then it should make sure that the commodity is available to those with money," said Michael Njalabani in Chiredzi. In Gutu, villagers said they were running out of patience and castigated the government for stopping non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from giving them food. Martha Mago, 60, of Magombedze Village in Gutu, said it was illogical for a responsible government to ban NGOs from giving aid to the people when it had failed to deliver. (Daily News)

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