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Harare Officials Insist Maize Reserves Adequate for Nation

Political analysts are discounting statements by senior government officials refuting the disclosure last week by a top Agriculture Ministry official that grain stocks in the country had fallen to dangerous levels with only a three-week supply on hand.

State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, chairman of the National Task Force on Grain, insisted reserves of maize, the staple food of Zimbabweans, are sufficient to feed the country. This contradicted a statement by Agriculture Ministry Permanent Secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa that just three weeks’ supply remained.

Reporter Carole Gombakomba asked Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga why top government officials have issued sharply conflicting statements on food supplies.

The opposition’s agriculture spokesman, meanwhile, said that government statements were not consistent with the situation on the ground. Edward Mkhosi of the Movement for Democratic Change said that even if Harare were importing 15,000 metric tons of maize each month as Mr. Mutasa maintained, that would still not meet the country’s annual requirement of some 1.8 million tonnes of maize and other grains.

Political analyst Chido Makunike told Studio 7 that given the government’s history of denying food shortages, the latest contradictory accounts came as no surprise.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...