Zimbabwe’s vice president blames food shortages on ‘lazy farmers’

June 17th, 2008 - 7:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg/Harare, June 17 (DPA) Zimbabwean Vice President Joyce Mujuru has accused “lazy” farmers of leasing their land instead of cultivating it, causing food shortages in the country, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Tuesday. “Do you think there would be another government that would come and do the farming on your behalf while you sleep?” she asked at a rally attended by 20,000 people Monday.

“What do you get when you lease your pieces of land? How do you expect to survive with your families?” asked Mujuru.

She said leasing pieces of land was “tantamount to laziness and such retrogressive behaviour was wearing away government efforts to empower farmers through giving them land,” the Herald’s online edition reported.

She also accused the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of making it difficult for farmers to access seeds and fertilizers.

“We are aware that some of you are having problems like procuring inputs in time. It is because of sanctions imposed by western countries at the behest of opposition party leader Morgan Tsvangirai,” she said.

The US and EU have imposed targeted sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and approximately 100 members of his ruling elite.

With the exception of a weapons embargo, there are no economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, where there have been shortages in basic foodstuffs for the past eight years after the government’s controversial land redistribution programme saw agricultural production grind to a halt.

“Some countries like Germany and Brazil reached a stage when people were paid weekly, daily and hourly because of hyperinflation, but today you are going there to buy goods because it was merely a passing phase,” Mujuru said.

“Zimbabwe is going through a similar phase,” she added.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for decades, is trying to hang on to power in a run-off election June 27 against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

There is an ongoing campaign of intimidation and violence against opposition supporters.

The MDC won a majority in parliamentary elections March 29, while Tsvangirai was accorded more votes in the simultaneous presidential election, although he failed to win more than 50 percent which he needed to avoid fighting a run-off and to be declared outright winner.

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