OPPOSITION MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai has said President Robert Mugabe is “deceiving himself” in telling the international community that Zimbabwe has sufficient food supplies. Mug
abe made the claim in a recent interview with UK-based Sky News.
In a statement to mark Africa Day on Tuesday, Tsvangirai said Mugabe was presenting himself as a reckless leader by asserting that Zimbabwe had enough food and would not need any imports this year.
“Mugabe’s misrepresentation of the (food) situation at home is a worrying point,” Tsvangirai said.
“To assume that Zimbabwe does not need food aid is simply to deceive oneself. Mugabe was therefore reckless in suggesting that Zimbabwe does not need to import any food, let alone appeal for donations.”
Tsvangirai said according to his party’s research on the country’s food situation, a grain deficit of at least 1,2 million tonnes is expected for the 2003/2004 season.
“At the beginning of the current season, the early planted maize was a failure and there were serious shortages of seed, fuel, fertiliser and other inputs,” Tsvangirai said.
“Our central estimate (therefore) is production of 600 000 tonnes of maize plus 100 000 tonnes of sorghum. Excluding any strategic stocks, this would imply a shortfall of 1,2 million tones,” he said.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made said recently that Zimbabwe would have a bumper harvest this season and estimated a grain yield of 2,4 million tonnes. Mugabe repeated the same claims in his interview with Sky News Africa correspondent Stuart Ramsay, who he invited to come and see for himself the food situation after the harvest.
Tsvangirai said Mugabe was covering up for an unsuccessful land reform exercise.
“He (Mugabe) is trying to cover up for a failed land reform programme that has reduced the entire commercial farmland to pieces of subsistence plots,” Tsvangirai said.
Tsvangirai also berated the African Union (AU) for ignoring the Zimbabwe’s electoral crisis.
“As a continental body, the AU has shown little interest in the plight of our people,” Tsvangirai said.
“Flawed elections are a key source of Zimbabwe’s problems.
“We humbly ask the AU to assist us in this regard in making sure that the next election is held in accordance with Sadc norms and standards.”
He said his party was considering petitioning the Southern African Development Community to secure what he called a “legitimate result” over the country’s skewed electoral process.
Sadc electoral norms and standards stipulate, among other issues, the need for an independent electoral commission, respect for the rule of law and basic freedoms and rights, public confidence in the electoral process, and the secrecy of the ballot.