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Declare a national emergency, pleads Coltart

While I cannot speak with authority regarding the rest of the country, Matabeleland is in the grips of one of the worst droughts we have suffered since 1991/1992.

By David Coltart

Aside from the poor rainfall, temperatures have soared. Whatever crops were planted after early rains have frazzled and are generally a total write off.

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Even if it rains now, crop yields across the entire country will be markedly lower than normal.

Poor people are telling me that their relatives in rural areas are already short of food, if not starving.

There is little sign that the government is doing anything about the growing crisis. [President] Robert Mugabe and his family flew out to the Far East on holiday just before Christmas as if nothing was wrong.

The State-controlled newspapers are largely silent about the growing crisis.

When I first raised the issue on Twitter, all I got from the only Zanu PF minister who is regularly on the platform — Jonathan Moyo — was his usual torrent of abuse.

The fact is that this is potentially a far worse crisis than we have ever experienced before.

When we last had a drought of this magnitude in 1992, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) was better run and our silos were much fuller.
For the last 15 years, the GMB has been run inefficiently and corruptly.

During the same period, commercial farmers have been hounded off their land in pursuit of Zanu PF’s deleteriously bad land policies, in the process removing many of those with the skills to fully exploit our irrigation dams in commercial farm areas.

Sadly, although communal land farmers are excellent dry land farmers, when rains fail their yields plummet, which is precisely what is happening this year.

Fly over Zimbabwe today and you will still see dams throughout the country in former commercial farming areas which still have substantial quantities of water in them, but which are lying unutilised. In other words, there is little domestic fall back capacity as there was before.

What compounds the situation even further is that the entire region is facing a similar drought and countries such as Zambia and South Africa will need all of their production to feed their own people.

One thing we can be certain of is that Zanu PF’s so-called “all weather friends”, Russia and China will not provide any significant food aid — they never have before and have little capacity to do so now.

This means we will have to turn to countries such as the United States for assistance. We will have to import from other continents, which takes time and costs a lot of money — neither of which we have.

The sooner this is declared to be what it is — a national emergency — the better.

Mugabe needs to come home from the Far East; he is leader of this nation and all leaders need to be with their people in times of crisis.

We need ministers in the rural areas assessing the crisis. We need the appropriate ministers flying to countries with food reserves to secure food supplies.

We need to alert the international community that people will starve if funding isn’t mobilised. In short, we need action, not an “ostrich mentality”.

Finally, we need to address the root causes of our failure to be able to feed ourselves in times of drought.

Firstly, we need to clean up the GMB and appoint competent and honest people to run it. Secondly, we need to recognise that all Zimbabweans must be allowed to farm.

The current racist policy of denying white Zimbabweans with skills the right to farm must end.
While tragically very few white commercial farmers are left in the country, those who are still here and who have the skills to grow crops must be allowed to farm.

Thirdly, we need to invest more in programmes such as Foundation for Farming which promote zero tillage agriculture, which has been proven to produce greater yields in drought conditions.

Fourthly, we need to end the hostile rhetoric directed against the very countries which in all likelihood will now come to our assistance.

We need to cooperate with those countries so that they invest in our nation rather than shun us.

Finally, we all need to pray that the good Lord will have mercy on our land.

— From Coltart’s Facebook page

10 Responses to Declare a national emergency, pleads Coltart

  1. simba January 3, 2016 at 6:00 am #

    it has been long since l heard somebody talking sense thank you coltart l dont know why you are not the president when incompetent people are running this country.

  2. Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights January 3, 2016 at 1:15 pm #

    Senator this is totally true, as Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights we made observations in Matobo, Gwanda, Insiza, Mangwe and Umzingwane in the past three days and we observed a terrible drought and humanitarian situation
    We are currently preparing a paper for the Ministry of Agriculture and the ZHRC on the extent of rights violations due to the drought and the need to declare this drought a humanitarian national emergency.

    • Chongololo January 7, 2016 at 5:42 pm #

      It is high time the Senator and the likes of Eddie Cross and Welshman Ncube campaigned for Matabeleland to be separated from the rest of the country. As it is always part of the country nothing goes right for it

      The graves at Athlone do not have numbers how is one expected to idenntify the graves they are looking for and Bulawayo is in a sorrowful state

  3. Madanzi January 3, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

    While I appreciate your asking the authorities to ready themselves for one of the worst droughts in living memory, this article betrays your (Mr Coltart’s) real consituency- that of former white commercial farmers. When did you fly around and saw small dams in the A2 farms full? Even in 1992 that cluster of 4000 ‘super farmers’ did little to help smallholder. And even beautiful words like ‘communal farmers are excellent dryland farmers’ failed to make you their messenger! These farmers need also need finance to improve their infrastructure like dams and boreholes to enjoy food security and uninterupted income just like the former white farmers used to enjoy

  4. Mugandani January 4, 2016 at 9:10 pm #

    The guy is talking what he sees and the truth is that, some of us would like to hide our heads in the sand coz this comes from a muzungu without offering a way out.

  5. Nicholas January 5, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

    Mr Coltart I appreciate your insights. Zimbabweans have to rectify the political inconsistencies that have, for years, hampered growth in the public and private sectors and intensified poverty. But my question is: Are effective pens enough to end these woes?

    • Thinking Man January 5, 2016 at 8:18 pm #

      My take it to pen the issues and call attention to them is better than doing nothing at all.

  6. Borangoma January 5, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

    We need concerted efforts to put a stop to this rot forthwith. That government must be met as a matter urgency before its too late for the majority. These goons are mainly concerned with feeding themselves and their families. Enough is enough Zimbabwe. Lets hound these roaches out of office and make them pay for the suffrage wrought on my people.

    Arise and unite Matabeland, Mashonaland and Manicaland. Rise up Zimbabwe.

    Wash the rot in our beloved country.
    #Zanupfmustfall
    #mugabeisgarbage

  7. peter January 6, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

    everything just needs to be declared a national emergency…what ???? one thing would you say is good ,,everything is just ……,,,,, lets see a spade as a spade

  8. sofiyathomas1121 January 6, 2016 at 10:08 pm #

    Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.
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