What You Need To Know:
This week, USAID in conjunction with the World Food Program (WFP) has announced the shipment of 11.3 Million Dollars worth of food aid to Zimbabwe, which is currently facing a food shortage crisis.
The aid is to be distributed initially to around 230,000 people, with those in the hardest-hit rural areas, particularly women and children, a first priority.
A culmination of drought brought on by El Nino, an ongoing economic crisis and farm mismanagement has contributed to the food crisis. In October 2023, the government announced their intent to pay white farmers who had their forms forcibly taken during the Banana and Mugabe administrations with government treasury bonds.
The land seizure policy triggered a period of extreme hyperinflation, famine and starvation in the mid 2000s.
After a visit to the nation in 2019, UN expert on the Right to Food, Hilal Elver claimed the nation was on the brink of “man-made starvation”, continuing, “More than 60% of the population of a country once seen as the breadbasket of Africa is now considered food-insecure, with most households unable to obtain enough food to meet basic needs due to hyperinflation.”
Speaking in November 2023, Zimbabwe’s finance minister Mthuli Ncube predicted a contraction of the country’s GDP from 5.5% in 2023 to 3.5% in 2024.
Zimbabwean Elites however, have differing opinions on what has caused the nation’s food crisis. In late 2023, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, claimed it is sanctions placed upon Zimbabwe by the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union for the past 20 years that have crippled its economy.
According to the Institute of Security Studies, “The targeted sanctions were applied in response to human rights violations, government policies and actions that impede democracy, rule of law and respect for human and property rights.”
However, James O’Brien, Sanctions Coordinator for the US Department of State claims it is deep-rooted corruption, not sanctions fueling Zimbabwe’s descent into failed state status.
During a digital press briefing in October 2022, O’Brien pointed to the billions of dollars of “annual illegitimate, illegal, cross-border transactions”, which serve to enrich government elites and impoverish the Zimbabwean average citizen.
Continuing, “We are focused on the people who benefit from corruption and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. That’s the behavior we are attempting to change. Our sanctions are only one part of a policy to improve the situation there.”