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Zimbabwe set to run out of food: UN -

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Zimbabwe set to run out of food: UN

The World Today - Wednesday, 12 November , 2008 12:30:00

ELEANOR HALL: The World Food Programme warns that food aid to four-million people in Zimbabwe will
run out by January unless it receives new funding.

The UN food agency says it's had no response from international donors to an emergency appeal and
it has now started rationing cereals and beans.

Some countries have been reluctant to donate money to Zimbabwe until the new power-sharing
government is in place.

But African leaders have still not been able to reach a breakthrough on the deal.

Jennifer Macey has our report.

JENNIFER MACEY: The UN food agency is running out of supplies to feed some four-million

It's had to cut each person's monthly 12 kilogram cereal ration to 10 kilos and has almost halved
the bean ration to just one kilo to make current stocks last longer.

Richard Lee is a spokesman for the World Food Programme spoke to ABC Radio National this morning.

RICHARD LEE: Unfortunately we have been forced to cut the rations that we've been distributing to
beneficiaries this month, we've been forced to reduce the cereal ration, and also the bean ration,
to most of the four-million people we're hoping to reach. And that is because we simply do not have
enough resources to fund our operation all the way through until the end of March when the harvest
will start in Zimbabwe.

So we're trying to stretch our resources as far as possible so that we can continue to provide at
least some assistance to as many people as possible for as long as possible.

JENNIFER MACEY: The economic collapse of Zimbabwe, running inflation and President Robert Mugabe's
seizure of white-owned farms in 2000 has led to a drop in harvests and more people dependent on

The UN first started feeding two-million people in Zimbabwe in October, now that number has doubled
and the World Food Programme's Richard Lee says that number is expected to grow.

RICHARD LEE: Many of them are completely reliant on international food assistance. We're talking
about communities particularly in the worst-affected rural areas which have no access to food,
farmers have exhausted the small amount they harvested this year. And they really are entirely
reliant on the World Food Programme and our NGO partners to provide them assistance month after
month until that harvest starts in April.

JENNIFER MACEY: The World Food Programme launched an emergency appeal last month to raise
$215-million but there's been little response. Mr Lee says they don't know why.

RICHARD LEE: Some people say that it is the financial crisis, clearly that has been top of the
agenda of many of our major donors. Other people say that countries are waiting for the
power-sharing negotiations to conclude, and then yet again others say there are crisis all over the
place, that governments are trying to fund and help support.

So it is very difficult but we really need donations now, because we don't have any food at the
moment for January and February when this crisis in Zimbabwe will really hit its peak. So we really
need donations now so that we can buy food here in South Africa, ship it quickly into Zimbabwe and
get it out to the rural areas that need it most.

JENNIFER MACEY: There is concern that some donor nations are reluctant to hand over millions of
dollars in aid to President Mugabe until he agrees to a power-sharing deal with the opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai. But hopes of such a deal are fading with both leaders disagreeing over
key cabinet positions.

Morgan Tsvangirai has refused to a compromise deal to share the Home Affairs Ministry with Mugabe's
Zanu-PF party.

And now President Mugabe has told a local newspaper that a new government will be in place within a
week, effectively sidelining the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Cephas Chiduku is the deputy chair of the Australian branch of the MDC.

CEPHAS CHIDUKU: It is not possible for a government to share a ministry but (inaudible) they say
they want to share the Security Ministry. Mugabe's not also willing to share the Defence Ministry
and then there's no reason why he would want to share the Home Affairs Ministry.

Then it won't be power-sharing, if we say it is power-sharing issue. This is the reason why Morgan
Tsvangirai doesn't want to share in the, I think that's all logical.

JENNIFER MACEY: But the longer this drags on, the less able the Government is to help the people of
Zimbabwe, the World Food Programme is already warning that it's running out of food aid.

CEPHAS CHIDUKU: Yes it is a problem, but it also makes the people actually see what the Mugabe
government and regime really is like. Other than rushing in to a government, just to say (phonetic)
government which does not help the people, is not the government of the people, from the people for
the people.

It's actually wise for the people actually to be more patient even if they're suffering, until they
have a government which is observing their will.

JENNIFER MACEY: But the longer the political stalemate drags on, the less able Zimbabwe is to drag
itself out of the economic crisis that could see more than five-million people dependent on food
aid in January next year.

ELEANOR HALL: Jennifer Macey reporting.