Walter Nyamukondiwa Chinhoyi Bureau
Government will identify a basket of minerals over the next six months that will be liquidated to establish a chest of funds to import food and ameliorate the effects of drought, a senior official said yesterday.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa was speaking while addressing Zanu-PF district chairpersons from Zvimba South constituency attending a leadership training workshop at Sabina Mugabe High School in Zvimba.
He said Government was not going to allow anyone to starve as contingency measures were being put in place.
“We are aware that the weather is not looking good and promises a drought, but people should know that the Government led by President Mugabe will not allow anybody to starve,” said Minister Chidhakwa, who is also the Acting Minister of Finance.
“If the heavens do not release enough rains and there is a drought, we will find ways of ensuring that there is enough maize and enough food in the country.”
Weather forecasts have painted a gloomy picture for this agricultural season, with signs already showing in most parts of the country as crops are withered and in some extreme cases livestock is in bad condition.
Minister Chidhakwa said people should not panic, adding that his ministry would play a significant role to counter the effects of drought.
“I am aware that my ministry is expected to generate money that will allow the Ministry of Finance to source food and maize and we will deliver on that,” he said.
“We will ensure that we find minerals within the next six months that will allow us to have money to buy food in the event that there is a drought.”
Minister Chidhakwa said Zanu-PF detractors such as the different factions of the MDC were pinning their regime change agenda on the drought, which they hoped would bring Government to its knees and subsequently push the ruling party out of power.
He said the country’s economy was resilient and if agriculture failed, mining and other natural resource sectors would hedge the impact.
“Some in MDC were now rejoicing saying the Government would be put to its knees because of drought, but we would like them to know that we are a strong party and a strong economy,” said Minister Chidhakwa.
“If agriculture fails, we will go underground. Zanu-PF is here to stay.”
The country needs at least two million tonnes of maize for livestock and human consumption each year and Government has to offset a deficit of 800 000 tonnes through imports with assistance from the private sector this year.
Turning to the Zanu-PF district chairpersons, Minister Chidhakwa said they held strategic positions in the party and should acquit themselves well to protect its name.
The three-day workshop will see the district chairpersons come up with strategies to foster development through their respective departments that include production and labour, education, business and tourism development.
The workshop is also being attended by party Secretary for Administration Dr Ignatius Chombo, Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora and national political commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere.