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Zimbabwe VP says food imports draining govt funds – reports

Zimbabwean Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has expressed concern over food imports, saying they are draining the country’s already strained resources, according to reports.

Mnangagwa said aggressive measures were needed to improve the country’s agricultural production, The Source reported.

The vice president said this during the third annual agro-business conference in Harare.

Mnangagwa’s remarks came at a time when Zimbabwe was set to import at least 700 000 tons of maize from neighbouring countries to avert a food crisis.

Analysts indicated the imports would cost Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped treasury around $224m.

According to the state-controlled Herald newspaper, Mnangagwa said the unplanned expenditures on food imports were a major drain on the fiscus, especially during this time when the country was experiencing economic challenges.

Land reforms

“These unplanned expenditures on food imports are a major drain on the economy and they further worsen our balance of payments position already negatively affected by imports of fuel and manufactured products,” Mnangagwa was quoted as saying.

“At a time when the economy is experiencing stagnation there is need to minimise imports, particularly of goods and services that can be produced locally,” he said.

The World Food Programme said early this week that around 1.5 million Zimbabweans were expected to go hungry this year after a dramatic fall in maize production.

Critics of President Robert Mugabe’s land reforms have often blamed the programme for low production on the farms and national food insecurity.

Mnangagwa, however, blamed droughts caused by climate change.

Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party launched the land reforms in 2000, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.

Mugabe said at the time that the reforms were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances.

At least 4 000 white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms.

The land seizures were often violent, claiming the lives of several white farmers during clashes with veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation struggle.

Written by PH

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