Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Now this

Despite a raging drought and an anaemic economy the Zimbabwean government has the audacity to prohibit gardening in the towns and cities of the country. This from IOL;

"Zimbabwe police have extended a demolition campaign targeting the homes and livelihoods of the urban poor to the vegetable gardens they rely on for food, saying the crops planted on vacant lots are damaging the environment.

President Robert Mugabe was quoted Tuesday as saying concern about the campaign was misplaced and agreeing to allow in a UN observer.

The crackdown on urban farming - at a time of food shortages in Zimbabwe - is the latest escalation in the government's monthlong Operation Murambatsvina, or Drive Out Trash, which has seen police torch the shacks of poor city dwellers, arrest street vendors and demolish their kiosks.

The destruction of city plots is a painful reminder of one of the most hated policies of the white government that ruled before independence in 1980 - the random slashing of crops on roadsides and railroad embankments.

The current crackdown comes when this southern African country needs to import 1,2 million metric tons of food to avoid famine. Years of drought, combined with the seizure of thousands of white-owned farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans, have slashed agricultural production.

Many poor families depend on their vegetable patches for food and a tiny income at a time of 144 percent inflation and 80 percent unemployment.

Many of the capital's two million residents till any vacant ground they can find for an annual production of 50 000 metric tons of corn - over a fifth of their total food requirements - according to farming expert Richard Winkfield."

Just how are people supposed to survive?

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