INFORMATION, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo and Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister Cain Mathema failed to show up at the World Food Day commemorations held in Jotsholo yesterday in a suspected snub by the Zanu PF politburo members.
According to sources, Moyo and Mathema did not attend the event in line with their party’s policy on non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) programme, Moyo was meant to be the guest of honour while Mathema was supposed to give welcome remarks.
However, Mathema was represented by Matabeleland North provincial administrator Lathiso Dlamini, who said the provincial minister had been summoned to Harare by President Robert Mugabe.
“The minister (Mathema) would have loved to be with you to celebrate with you today, but when he woke up today, he was called to Harare by Mugabe,” Dlamini said.
No excuse was given on behalf of Moyo despite communication by his department the previous day that he would be guest of honour at the event.
The Ministry of Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development permanent secretary Ringson Chitsiko, who had also come for the commemorations was made guest of honour.
In his hastily arranged handwritten speech in point form, Chitsiko said the government had launched an inputs assistance programme that would assist farmers with inputs for livestock and crops this season.
He said the inputs would include seed, fodder and medicine for livestock.
“Some people during their campaign promised, you that they would bring you donors, but we want food security from an empowered society and a nation empowered to produce and ensure food security and nutrition from our own resources,” Chitsiko said.
He said the government was working tirelessly to ensure that the whole country was able to produce livestock and crops.
“The government has launched an inputs programme for crops and livestock for the 2013-2014 agricultural season,” Chitsoko said.
“As I speak, our teams are on the ground distributing the inputs before the start of the season.
“I know it hasn’t reached this area because it started in Harare, but it is our wish that next time the programme can start in Matabeleland. By next week the inputs will arrive here.
“The inputs for livestock will come in handy because I hear some of your livestock has been severely affected by lack of grazing pastures. We will bring medicine and a food type for the livestock.”
Chitsiko said the government was also working on a programme to revive irrigation schemes.
FAO representative in Zimbabwe, David Phiri, said his organisation in collaboration with the government and other partners made a sizeable contribution in the reduction of hunger and improved nutrition.
Phiri said his organisation had signed an agreement of $10 million for a livestock drought mitigation programme in Matabeleland until next year.
World Food Programme country representative and director Sory Ouane said his organisation would this year buy locally-produced crops for $1 million to promote local markets and alleviate food shortages in affected areas.