GENEVA / HARARE (28 November 2019) – Despite the constitutional protection of the right to food and a sophisticated set of human-rights based national laws and policies, man-made starvation is slowly making its way in Zimbabwe, said the UN expert of the right to food after visiting the country from 18 to 28 November 2019.
“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,” said Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, presenting a preliminary statement at the end of an 11-day visit.
“In rural areas, a staggering 5.5 million people are currently facing food insecurity, as poor rains and erratic weather patterns are impacting harvests and livelihoods. In urban areas, an estimated 2.2 million people are food-insecure and lack access to minimum public services, including health and safe water.
“These are shocking figures and the crisis continues to worsen due to poverty and high unemployment, widespread corruption, severe price instabilities, lack of purchasing power, poor agricultural productivity, natural disasters, recurrent droughts and unilateral economic sanctions.”
Elver said women and children were bearing the brunt of the crisis.
“The majority of the children I met were stunted and underweight,” she said. “Child deaths from severe malnutrition have been rising in the past few months. 90 % of Zimbabwean children aged six months to two years are not consuming the minimum acceptable diet.
“I saw the ravaging effects of malnutrition on infants deprived of breast feeding because of their own mothers’ lack of access to adequate food.
“In a desperate effort to find alternative means of livelihood, some women and children are resorting to coping mechanisms that violate their most fundamental human rights and freedoms. As a result, school drop-outs, early marriage, domestic violence, prostitution and sexual exploitation are on the rise throughout Zimbabwe.”
Elver said people she met in the drought-affected areas of Masvingo and Mwenezi, located in the driest regions of the country, told her they ate only one portion of cooked maize a day. Women, the elderly and children are barely able to meet their minimum food needs and are largely dependent on food assistance, while most of the men are abroad seeking work, she added.
“Without access to a diversified and nutritious diet, rural Zimbabweans, particularly younger children, barely survive,” she said, adding that the agricultural and food system needs immediate reform.
“I strongly urge the Government to take the necessary measures to reduce the country’s dependence on imported food, particularly maize, and to support alternative wheats to diversify the diet. The Government should create the conditions for the production of traditional seeds to ensure the country’s self-sufficiency and preparedness for the climate shocks that hit the country.”
The Special Rapporteur said the crisis in Zimbabwe’s cities was no less severe than in rural areas.
“I witnessed some of the devastating consequences of the acute economic crisis in the streets of Harare, with people waiting for hours on long lines in front of gas stations, banks, and water dispensaries,” she said.
“The Zimbabweans I spoke to in Harare and its suburbs explained that even if food was widely available in markets, the erosion of their incomes combined with an inflation skyrocketing to over 490%, made them suffer from food insecurity, also impacting the middle-class.
Elver also said that she received “disturbing” information that public hospitals have been reaching out to humanitarian organizations after their own medicine and food stocks were exhausted.
Elver also received indication that the distribution of lands or food had been manipulated for political ends throughout the last two decades, favoring those who support the ruling political party.
“I call on the Government of Zimbabwe to live up to its zero hunger commitment without any discrimination,” Elver said.
Zimbabwe counts amongst the four highest food insecure States, alongside conflict ravaged countries, the expert noted.
“A Government official I met in Harare told me that ‘Food security is national security’. Never has this been truer than in today’s Zimbabwe.
“As food insecurity and land mismanagement increase the risks of civil unrest, I urgently call on the Government, all political parties and the international community to come together to put an end to this spiraling crisis before it morphs into a full-blown conflict.
“Steps could be taken at the national level to respect, protect and fulfill the Government’s human rights obligations, and internationally, by putting an end to all economic sanctions. The extraordinarily resilient people of Zimbabwe deserve no less.”
This was really inspired and not well thought out of, the Department of Exiting the European Union and the rest of the Tories. Really didn’t care much for the estimates of the costs, nor the consequences in concerns of their amended Bill to Parliament. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to just pursuit the ending without doing the proper work. This is shoddy, disrespectful work, which he wanted to be over within 3 days or so. Within the parameter of when he wanted to suspend the Parliament.
So, his acts and his vision is blurry, as the whole law and amendments of it. Is substantial and needs time to be addressed properly, that is if, the Brexit process and withdrawal of membership has consequences. Which it does, but apparently it is more important to leave, than to know why your leaving.
I have today looked through the Impact Assessment Report on the bill, which in itself is a sad report. A disgraceful attempt of justification and proving the possible outcomes of the withdrawal. Apparently, that didn’t matter, because my quotes are very striking. Take a look!
“There could be costs to business associated with the arrangements in the Northern Ireland/Ireland Protocol. But these are inherently uncertain in their nature and intensity, as such, these costs have not been quantified” (Impact Assessment, 2019).
“Businesses in Great Britain and Northern Ireland may face familiarisation costs in adapting to the new customs processes, such as the requirements for customs declarations, in particular if they have not undertaken such processes before” (Impact Assessment, 2019).
This isn’t rocket science and will cost both the state and the businesses. It will cost both time and money, to fill forms and secure the movement accordingly to the regulations on both sides of the customs.
“Northern Ireland will be required to align with certain EU VAT and excise rules. VAT collected in Northern Ireland will be retained by the UK. Specific practical arrangements will be the subject of discussions within the Joint Committee, and it is not therefore possible to assess costs or benefits at this stage” (Impact Assessment, 2019).
The taxation on goods will be an issue and how its issued. This will add prices possibly on the consumer and also on the businesses. But the HM Government don’t know to what extent and how to operate. That is clearly a smooth transition.
“No tariffs will be paid on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland unless they are deemed to be at risk of entering the EU. The appropriate UK tariff will be paid on goods moving from outside the UK or EU to Northern Ireland unless they are deemed to be at risk of entering the EU. The Joint Committee will agree the criteria to be used in determining whether goods are not considered to be at risk of entering the EU” (Impact Assessment, 2019).
So, there will certain cost of moving goods into the EU as per the tariffs stipulated by the Joint Committee. This means, the UK-EU on accord will find the fitted prices on movement of goods form the UK into EU. That means, the goods moving across the borders will cost more, than today, as there is no-tariff on lots of products crossing the borders at this very moment.
Agri-Foods from GB to NI:
“Agri-food goods moving from Great Britain into Northern Ireland would need to be notified to the relevant authorities before entering Northern Ireland and would be subject to checks including identity, documentary and physical checks by UK authorities as required by the relevant EU rules. These processes would introduce additional costs, both from one-offfamiliarisation and ongoing compliance, to businesses compared to current arrangements” (Impact Assessment, 2019).
This will surely cost and make it more time consuming. Not making it easy or smooth either. Surely, all of this is hardening the trade of this to NI.
Manufactured goods from GB to NI:
“To ensure regulatory compliance, businesses in Great Britain selling to Northern Ireland may incur additional costs from product testing and corresponding administrative processes. The nature of the costs will depend on the product-specific requirements in EU law and on a business’s current approach to meeting these requirements. These costs may be passed through to businesses in Northern Ireland” (Impact Assessment, 2019).
Here the costs will be put on the consumer in Northern Ireland for the goods coming from Great Britain. The manufactured goods will not be cheaper, but more time consuming to get and has to follow other protocols, than the ones coming from Ireland/EU. This means for the NI it will be more profitable to get EU goods, than GB goods, because of the cost. That is simple calculation.
We can all see, that the Withdrawal Agreement and new legal text makes business, movement of goods and borders to the Northern Ireland more harder. That without swimming into the legal text nor the statutes of the Withdrawal Agreement. Because, this is just the mere chip-shape of the impact assessment of it all.
The whole thing is lazy and that makes me grim. Because, this shows the people releasing it. Didn’t do their job and show the real estimates nor the possible costs of doing business. Only that it might cost more, which it most likely will do, because you have more things to do before doing business. Peace.
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – Impact Assessment, 21.10.2019
“The distribution of hoes to the communities as promised by President Museveni has divided members of Parliament with sections of the legislators saying it will cost them votes in 2021” (NBS Television 18.10.2019).
On the 20th November 2015 before the General Election and within the campaign period, the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni ordered the Prime Minister and his office to purchase 18 million hoes to 6 million households. With the estimate of 44,700,000 population in the republic and the Uganda Bureau of Statistics Household Survey of 2016/17 said the average amount of people a household was about 5. This means statistically, that there are about 8,940,000 households. This is mere numbers and not the whole package, but it gives you feeling of how many.
Therefore, when the MPs are complaining, the OPM have surely not bought all the promised 18 million hoes. Because, that mean most of them would have been covered, just nearly 3 million household without any. However, there must be short-fall in the amount, as the state cannot deliver to enough regions or district to matter. That is why the MPs are afraid of this.
I can ask like Jajja did in November 2015: “What happened?”.
Because, that this story continues to haunt us in 2019. On the stages and preparations for rallies in 2020 for the General Election in 2021. Surely, this is pure fiction, but sadly our reality. As the Devine powers doesn’t want things to work or succeed. It is a repetition of the mediocre and lazy, lackluster approach to governing. Which is staple with the National Resistance Movement. The party that promise middle-income status and steady progress. But cannot even drop some promised tool on the population.
Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has had 4 years to deliver 18 millions hoes and still hasn’t finished the task. There been four budgets and four planning stages. Still, it seems like it needs a fifth to get to the finish line. Even with this, there will not hoes for every household nor all families who needs them. As the statistics are not counting the ones living single, the one who has their left the nest and so-on. Therefore, the statistics is lying a bit and just giving a feeling of the state of affairs.
The President and PM has failed. They can come with arguments, but we should ask them: “What Happened?”. Peace.
In the recent time, not so long ago, the Mumias Sugar Limited was involved in not only spending big on political campaigns in 2017, but they also got big payouts with funds reviving the company that same year in 2017. Now two years after the previous elections, the KCB Bank put the company in receivership. This means the funds are insolvent and they struggle to raise enough funds to keep it afloat. That means the owners like Evans Kidero, Amos Wako and Henry Rotrich are struggling to keep it alive.
Surely, they didn’t see this coming. In 2000 and in 2001, the turnover records was set for the company. Since then the privatization and the other measures done, has clearly made the company volatile, as well as the opening of the boarders for more sugar imports. This must have all hurt the turnover, the profits and the margins of the company. Like back in 2008 alone, the company was behind over 50% sugar production in the Republic. That means and shows the importance of Mumias and its operations in Kenya.
Therefore, when it falls as hard it does today. It shows that its left behind. That the business-model, the strategic enterprise isn’t working. Maybe even, that the Jubilee haven’t seen it as an priority post-2017 Elections. We know the importance of it, as it is reported that professor Tom Ojienda has also obtained and solicited illegal funds from this company. That is why we know its vital place in the political sphere and in the republic as whole. The elite has been eating of the company and enjoyed it services, to a point that its crashing.
The millers, the sugar-farmers and the workers are the losers, as the receivership means the bank will runs the operations, until they possibly find a buyer. Someone buying its stake, since the company lacks funds to operate properly. This means, the investors and buyers needs to be loaded, to be able to fill the gaps of financial input, which is clearly needed. That is ironic, knowing how many campaigns, how much the company has gotten favours and how it has high-ranking officials whose had shares in the company.
The income statement on FT says it all: “Year on year Mumias Sugar Company Ltd’s revenues fell -34.06% from 2.09bn to 1.38bn. This along with an increase in the cost of goods sold expense has contributed to a reduction in net income from a loss of 6.77bn to a larger loss of 15.14bn”. This shows how its burning funds and not earning at this point.
We can wonder if the Jubilee will bail on this one or if they are planning ahead for 2022 and want the support of Kakamega. This would be a vital investment, not only in the sugar business, but in the region. As they would save a big business, which has been the biggest producer and miller on the market. This is if the Jubilee cares, but if they are reckless, than they let it go. But then expect them to pay a price. As they are destroying an old institution, business and former state owned enterprise, which is now in the mercy of Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB).
This is not a good look. So my question is, have the Jubilee forgotten this company and its role in society? Or do they think there is someone else’s turn to have that place?
I don’t know, but this is shady, letting a company like this fall and one, which process sugar from the farmers. They will be limbo and need to supply other millers, since this one cannot sustain itself and needs new investments to cover the losses. In the end, the sugar-farmers are the losers. Peace.