Dire starvation in Zaka as
villagers resort to illegal means
to survive

VILLAGERS and farmers in remote districts
of Zaka in Masvingo province have resorted
to spilling oil on highways so trucks carrying
donated food aid are involved in accidents
after which they can steal the aid.
So daring are the culprits who claim the
tactic is a way of fighting hunger. They are
also not concerned that these
accidents can also claim the lives of drivers
and even other passengers travelling in the
trucks.
The crafty villagers usually target non-
governmental organisations’ trucks which
would be transporting food aid to various
parts of the province. Once a truck loses its
brakes and falls, the villagers then pounce
and loot the food.
Interestingly, while the villagers and
farmers in this area have lost cattle and
crops in the severest drought that has hit
the country for the past two decades and
depend on food hand-outs from donors, they
are intercepting these trucks before they
reach their intended destinations.
The villagers also revealed that not only are
food trucks being trapped by villagers but
that even cotton, tobacco and sugar trucks
are also targeted as villagers steal the goods
for resell in Masvingo town.
Apart from causing truck accidents and
looting them, the community has also adapted
unorthodox ways of feeding themselves that
include eating baboons as a way to mitigate
hunger.
Villagers who spoke to the Weekend Post last
week revealed that many of them are
surviving through these accidents especially
at the famous steep top mountain called
Pelilendava.
Ndanga, a chief from Zaka district said this
area is characterised with poor soils, high
temperatures and low rainfall.
“The drought has even worsened hunger
levels and people are doing anything to
survive.
“If we had dams and irrigation systems, this
area could have been spared from this
drought and villagers could not have indulged
in unorthodox behaviours,” he added.
According to the United Nations World Food
Programme (WFP) over 1,5 million people who
make up about 10 percent of the total
population in Zimbabwe are facing hunger.
“It’s very tough. Most households are going
to collapse; children will drop out of school
because of hunger. Most people will opt to go
to South Africa to look for food and better
paying jobs,” said Joseph Mutamba, the local
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