Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mugabe: I need food!!!

Africa: Good to see the land grabbing was a success eh?

"President Robert Mugabe yesterday abandoned his confident forecasts of a bumper harvest in Zimbabwe and confessed that international food aid was needed to avoid famine. Mr Mugabe, who declared last year that Zimbabweans would be "choked" if aid was "foisted" upon them, climbed down and agreed to meet the head of the United Nations World Food Programme. Having previously pledged that his seizure of white-owned farms would make Zimbabwe self-sufficient, Mr Mugabe said he would accept outside help if it came without conditions. Renson Gasela, agriculture spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said the president should "eat humble pie, forget about the claim of a bumper harvest and accept food from whoever can offer help". Last year, Mr Mugabe hailed the "success" of his land seizures, saying they would yield a record maize harvest of 2.4 million tons, more than enough to supply Zimbabwe with its staple food. In fact, this year's harvest was below 600,000 tons. The government has quietly admitted trying to import another 1.2 million tons to meet the annual demand for 1.8 million tons. But imports on this scale are affordable and logistically possible only with international help. Yet Mr Mugabe still refused to ask for food aid. It took a personal intervention from Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, before he agreed to yesterday's U-turn. "

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