Villagers in Gutu communal lands, Masvingo province, have slammed President Robert Mugabe for donating cassava and bananas at a time when most of them have run out of the staple food – maize meal – due to a crippling drought.
President Mugabe made the donations at a rally at Chamisa Primary School shortly after paying his condolences to the late Chief Gutu Amos Tasirai Masanganise, who died three years ago.
Villagers, who spoke to Studio 7, said the donation was a mockery to them as they don’t eat cassava while bananas are not associated with ending hunger.
One of the villagers, who only wanted to be identified as Gondodza, said President Mugabe should not have donated such items as people in the region eat traditional grains and not cassava.
“Cassava is alien to us and we don’t even know how to prepare or cook it. We thought that he was going to bring us the usual maize but he shocked us when he donated cassava and bananas. This is a mockery to starving villagers.”
Indications are that the president sourced the cassava and bananas from Equatorial Guinea in West Africa. This could neither be confirmed nor denied by presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, who was not reachable for comment on the donation and the source of the cassava and bananas.
Another villager, Timothy Mavhudzi, said the donation was a sign of desperate attempts by Mr. Mugabe to please hungry Zimbabweans.
“To me these are very desperate measures because bananas cannot end hunger … It shows that the president is losing his senses. How can he bring something that is not our staple food? He should have brought maize and not cassava.”
Villager Timothy Muranganwa concurred, adding that the president’s donation was an insult to the people of Gutu.
“We were very surprised to see the president bringing cassava and bananas. It was funny and also an insult to us. How could he bring such things when he knows that our staple food is maize? May be due to his advanced age, he has forgotten that our staple food is sadza.”
Other villagers said they were shocked to learn that the president came to Gutu to pay his condolences to a person who died several years ago.
Speaking to the villagers, Mr. Mugabe took a swipe at war veterans, who are allegedly spear-heading a campaign to block his wife, Grace, from succeeding him.