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Increasing Reports of Hunger in Zimbabwean Provinces

Though Harare denies the country has a food crisis, recent official statements and press reports suggest a food emergency is rapidly developing.

A permanent secretary in the Agriculture Ministry told a public gathering last week that the country had only a three-week supply of grain, though he was contradicted in this by his minister and by security minister and food security czar Didymus Mutasa.

The Daily Mirror reports that some residents of Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Manicaland, all in the northeast, have no staple maize and are surviving on fruits and vegetables. The Internet news outlet ZW-News reports food shortages have led the army to send some junior officers home because they cannot be fed.

Communications Director Robert Michel of the international relief organization World Vision tells reporter Patience Rusere of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that there could be some areas which have run out of food while Harare refuses to request aid.

Meanwhile, 37 metric tons of food donated by the South African Council of Churches had arrived in Harare after being delayed in Johannesburg for six weeks by red tape mounted by officials in Harare, such as testing grain for genetic modification.

Council spokesman Ron Steele tells Ms. Rusere that the consignment was delivered to Christian Care of Zimbabwe, which will in turn distribute the food countrywide.

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