Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe, has declared a state of disaster with effect from 2 February 2016 following the El Nino-induced drought which has severely affected some areas in both communal and resettlement areas across the country.
The announcement was made through the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Saviour Kasukuwere who stated that President Mugabe made the declaration given the magnitude of the significant impacts and the continued threat of the El Nino phenomenon-induced drought. Over 95 percent of the country has received less than 75 percent of what they would have received by this time of the year, he added.
The President is entitled to declare a ‘State of Disaster’ as provisioned in Civil Protection Act (Chapter 10:06), Section 27 that hopefully will see urgent priority being given to mobilisation of resources to alleviate suffering in the affected areas.
While a declaration of a state of disaster is in force the State will “perform any work or render any service which, as a result of the disaster, is reasonably necessary for the purpose of dealing with the situation.” This will also hopefully attract the attention of the “pressed” international community so it helps address Zimbabwe’s “difficult” situation.
Reports in recent weeks have indicated that most of the maize crop in provinces like Masvingo and Matabeleland South is a write off, while over 16,000 cattle have succumbed to drought throughout the country.
The declaration comes at a time when stakeholders were calling on the Government to urgently respond to meet the needs of what are reported to be at least 2.6m people who will be in need of food aid until the next harvest. A plea was made early January for such a declaration and hopes are that food aid will be swiftly dispatched.
The last time such a declaration was made was in 2002.
Opposition parties however, have been calling on Government to distribute aid on a non-partisan basis as there is fear that the ruling party may use food as a tool for political patronage.
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