China donates food to Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s has taken delivery of $14million worth of food hand outs from China to ease starvation that has spread to most parts of the country.
The food is intended for villagers who lost their crops due to drought.
“China is ready to assist our good friend, good brother and good partner within our capacity at any time,” said Liu Dan of the Chinese embassy’s political section.
Zimbabwe has experienced a decade of food shortages due to drought.
Experts say the food shortages are also a direct result of the land reform programme launched in 2000 by President Robert Mugabe.
The land reform severely disrupted the agricultural sector as white farm owners were ejected.
Liu Dan said Zimbabwe and China “share a deep bond of traditional friendship.”
The donations, in the form of rice and wheat, however will have to be swapped for the staple maize-meal.
Zimbabwe’s Agriculture minister Joseph Made said the country had 440 000 tonnes of grain in its reserves.
Made said the Chinese donation would go to vulnerable children and the elderly in the affected areas.
“Globally we have food but there are a number of pockets that are under pressure. We want to make sure that we look after such communities,” Made said.
Areas worst affected by food shortages include those in the Matabeleland region, Masvingo, parts of the Midlands and parts of Mashonaland East.
So severe is the drought in Matabeleland region that Zimbabwe army commander Lieutenant Valerio Sibanda at the weekend said aspiring soldiers failed to make it into the army because they were poorly nourished.
Mugabe regards China as his “all-weather friend,” which according to local analysts is because of the Asian giant’s unwillingness to criticise rights abuses committed over the last decade.
China has invested in mining and agricultural projects in the southern Africa country and many small-scale Chinese businessmen run shops and brick-making concerns.