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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 21:43 GMT 22:43 UK
Tension mounts over Zambia's food shortages
Zimbabwean woman sits by relief food in the Nhwali area
Zambia and its neighbours are hit by hunger

Zambia's government has come under fire over the food crisis, the worst in 10 years, with some 2.5 million people in urgent need of food aid.

Opposition politicians and women's groups have criticised its decision to reject offers of genetically modified grain, and say that people are now starving to death.

The government has reacted angrily, saying their critics are merely making political capital out of the situation.

At the weekend, an opposition politician reported that three people in his Moomba constituency, in the drought-stricken south of the country, had died because they did not have enough to eat.


On Thursday the women's movement joined the fray with a strongly-worded statement condemning the government's reaction to Zambia's food crisis.

An umbrella organisation of women's groups, the NGOCC, appealed to the government to stop its political squabbles and get on with the job of feeding people before more lives are lost.

"The government should quickly provide the needed relief food rather than refuting reports of starving people and threatening to arrest members of parliament who demand food for their areas," the group said in a statement.

A child and his dog (Photo: IFRC)
There are not enough resources to help Zambia's orphans

On Tuesday, President Levy Mwanawasa accused Vitalis Moya of the United Party for National Development of "politicking" and trying to undermine his government.

The president said his claims that three people had died from hunger were untrue and threatened to have the MP arrested and prosecuted for breaching the peace and trying to drive Zambia into chaos.

'Enough food'

The government says it is doing its best to ensure 2.5 million Zambians receive the food aid they need and that the idea that Zambians are starving is far-fetched.

The government says that there is more than enough food to go round hungry people in Monze district, where the UPND politician claims three people died.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa
Mwanawasa: There's no justification for feeding people 'poison'

This has not, however, stopped villagers from looting World Food Programme warehouses full of genetically modified maize, because they are hungry, and this despite a government ban.

The government has been criticised at home and abroad for rejecting what it calls "poisonous" GM maize.

Other countries in the region have accepted the GM maize.

The WFP says another 12,000 tonnes of non-GM food began arriving in the country this week.

But this will last for only about two weeks and then there will be a gap in its feeding chain before the next food arrives in November.

It s hoped that before this food runs out a final decision will be made on whether Zambia will continue to reject GM maize.

Key stories

Horn of Africa

Southern Africa

West Africa

Ways to help



See also:

08 Sep 02 | Africa
06 Sep 02 | Africa
03 Sep 02 | Africa
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