Food a political football in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean children wait for food in this April 2007 photo at the Masarira primary school, where about 30 pupils receive a daily ration of beans and starch-based cereals during their mid-morning break. For some it is the only meal they will have in the day.

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: I actually feel bad complaining about prices when I hear about the people of Zimbabwe. Their president, Robert Mugabe, is a tyrant, to be polite about it. Last week, he forbid nonprofit groups from providing food and aid to people. And now, what aid is getting through is being diverted only to Mugabe supporters. Jeremy Hobson has more.


Jeremy Hobson: Kenneth Walker is based in Johannesburg, South Africa for CARE International:

Kenneth Walker: We can't deliver food, and we can't do any of the other activities that we're involved in.

Outside organizations are central to feeding and caring for Zimbabweans. With 80 percent unemployment and 165,000 percent inflation, 4 million people now rely on food aid. And the U.S. already has nearly 1$00 million of food earmarked for Zimbabwe this year.

Edward Brown with a consortium of aid organizations called C-Safe is in Zimbabwe. He says food has become a political football.

Edward Brown: The government makes it political, but it's not meant to be.

The Mugabe government says NGO's are bribing people with food in order to win votes for the opposition. Aid workers say that's paranoia.

And despite the highjacking of a food truck this week by Mugabe supporters, NGOs say their assistance will continue no matter who wins the run-off election on June 27.

I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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