Zim food stocks depleted, says bank

It said the shortage of maize has raised prices of the staple food as 1.6-million Zimbabweans already depend on food aid. (AFP)

It said the shortage of maize has raised prices of the staple food as 1.6-million Zimbabweans already depend on food aid. (AFP)

The African Development Bank said on Wednesday that the strategic reserves have become so depleted that commercial millers have been stopped from buying supplies from the state.

It said the shortage of maize has raised prices of the staple food as 1.6-million Zimbabweans already depend on food aid.

The nation has 92 000 tonnes in store, the bank said in its latest economic bulletin, but imports of another 150 000 tons are needed to meet consumer demand before the new harvest lands on the market.

In one province, three-fourths of planted maize was written off after a prolonged dry spell and other areas reported having had too much rain.

Zim government a failure
Meanwhile, an opposition leader said on Wednesday that Zimbabwe's unity government has failed during its four-year tenure to carry out key reforms to guarantee upcoming elections will be fair and violence free.

"The people of Zimbabwe continue to be fearful everyday, we live in fear. All of us," said Simba Makoni, a former finance minister under President Robert Mugabe.

"The highest priority of national action must be to eliminate or remove that fear." In perhaps the strongest criticism of the Mugabe-Tsvangirai power-sharing government by a senior Zimbabwean politician, Makoni described the unity government as "pathetic" and "dismal".

"Among all the high issues that will make up conditions to free and fair elections none of them has been implemented, not a single one of them," said Makoni.

The 63-year-old Makoni, who came third in 2008 elections with 8.3% of the vote, urged Mugabe's opponents to forge a "coalition" to unseat the long-time ruler, who has been in office for 33 years, since Zimbabwe gained independence.

"We want to work for a grand coalition of change," Makoni said. "By committing ourselves to working with others, we are committing ourselves to support the most competent, the most eligible [candidate] for the office that is open." Makoni thinks Mugabe, at 89, stands a slim chance of winning the election.

"Mugabe was not electable in 2008, I don't see how he can be electable in 2013," he said.

"I know Mugabe fears losing his position." Makoni, a former member of Zanu-PF's politburo, the party's supreme decision making body, formed his Mavambo Kusile Dawn party after ditching Mugabe in 2008.

Mugabe has labelled him a "prostitute" of the West and a "bloated frog". Sapa-AP, AFP

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