ZNA com­ple­ments Govt ef­forts in as­sist­ing min­istries, com­mu­ni­ties

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide - Lance-Cor­po­ral Spencer Mu­pasu

IN ful­fil­ment of one of its con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tions of of­fer­ing mil­i­tary aid to civil min­istries, the Zim­babwe Na­tional Army is as­sist­ing the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Mech­a­ni­sa­tion and Ir­ri­ga­tion De­vel­op­ment in dis­tribut­ing grain do­nated by the Gov­ern­ment to hunger stricken com­mu­ni­ties around the coun­try.

Through­out the coun­try the army for­ma­tions col­lect grain from Grain Mar­ket­ing Board de­pots and dis­trib­ute to des­ig­nated dis­tricts fall­ing in their par­tic­u­lar ar­eas of re­spon­si­bil­ity. Head­quar­ters 1 In­fantry Bri­gade un­der Bri­gadier-Gen­eral Au­gus­tine Chip­were oper­at­ing in the ar­eas of Mata­bele­land re­gion have dis­trib­uted food in Binga (Lusulu, Siyanzundu, Chunga) Hwange, Lu­pane, Tsholot­sho, Gwanda and Beit­bridge, to men­tion a few.

“So far 1 750 tonnes of grain has been dis­trib­uted and the army vehicles cov­ered 30 000km,” said the then Deputy Com­man­der 1 In­fantry Bri­gade, Colonel Mpu­laeng Siz­iba, who was the Programme Co-or­di­na­tor.

This is not the first time the ZNA has part­nered the Gov­ern­ment in as­sist­ing min­istries and com­mu­ni­ties in times of need. The his­tory stretches back to the drought of 1992 and in 2000, after Cy­clone Eline. The ZNA as­sisted with the trans­porta­tion of grain to re­mote parts of the coun­try as well as as­sist­ing the Min­istry of Trans­port in re­con­struc­tion of dam­aged bridges for ex­am­ple the Tok­wane river bridge in Bulil­ima in Mata­bele­land South built by 1 En­gi­neer Squadron.

In an in­ter­view with the ZNA Mag­a­zine, Mrs Betty Sibanda the coun­cil­lor of ward 18 in Lu­pane un­der Chief Mab­hikwa in Mata­bele­land North said most peo­ple are sur­viv­ing on live­stock. “We are happy with the army (ZNA) for bring­ing the food to the hunger stricken com­mu­ni­ties most peo­ple were sur­viv­ing on live­stock, be it sell­ing or con­sump­tion due to se­ri­ous food short­age,” said Mrs Sibanda.

The El Nino-in­duced rain­fall pat­terns con­trib­uted to the food short­ages as many farm­ers lost their crops. Some gave up pro­duc­ing on their land due to the er­ratic rain­fall. The most drought hit ar­eas are Mata­bele­land North and South, Mid­lands, Masvingo and South­ern Man­i­ca­land. How­ever, the late rains that pounded Zim­babwe were a wel­come re­lief for some es­pe­cially in Mashona­land East and West and cen­tral who sal­vaged their crops in a largely drought sea­son.

Un­der the drought re­lief programme, com­mu­ni­ties all over the coun­try had launched the Food for As­sets programme as a way of mit­i­gat­ing hunger. Se­lected non-labour constrained ben­e­fi­cia­ries will work for four hours per day for a to­tal of 15 days per month and re­ceive 50kg monthly grain al­lo­ca­tion while labour constrained house­holds like the el­derly, dis­abled and child headed house­holds will re­ceive free grain.

Ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment’s eco­nomic blue­print, Zim-As­set, un­der the food se­cu­rity and nu­tri­tion clus­ter, Zim­babwe should be a self-suf­fi­cient and food sur­plus econ­omy and re-emerg­ing as the “Bread Bas­ket of South­ern Africa.”

Mil­i­tary vehicles queue as they wait to load drought re­lief grain to dif­fer­ent parts of the re­gion at the Grain Mar­ket­ing Board Bulawayo De­pot. Pic­ture by Pri­vate Welling­ton Gakanje

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