The Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, yesterday lashed out at his "criminal" government for refusing to ask for food aid to help at least two million needy Zimbabweans. "The most criminal thing which the Zimbabwe government is doing is that they have not declared that we are in need of food," Ncube told a news conference in Johannesburg. "If the government does not allow food distribution, we are going to die this year, the people are saying," said Ncube, who has been one of the most vocal opponents of Mugabe's policies. His remarks came amid reports in Harare that Mugabe is ready to meet with the head of the UN World Food Programme to discuss aid for his country, where food and fuel shortages have worsened in recent weeks along with power and water outages. Ncube estimated that more than two million Zimbabweans are in need of emergency food aid. He reported "gross shortages of basic foodstuffs", saying that people are forced to purchase products such as sugar on the black market at six times the shop price. He said that Mugabe had ensured that fuel supplies were available in the run-up to the March 31 elections that his ruling Zanu PF party won, but that the situation since has become "disastrous". The Archbishop said: "Such a hypocritical government. They tried to see to it that there was as much fuel as possible before the elections because the journalists were there, but soon after the elections, the cars were waiting bumper to bumper." Ncube, who is due to travel to Scotland later this week where he has been nominated to receive the Robert Burns humanitarian award, accused the government of waging a campaign of revenge against regions, such as Bulawayo, that elected opposition lawmakers to Parliament. "There is a kind of revenge," he said, citing as an example a township - where a Zanu PF lawmaker lost her seat - that was subjected to power cuts. "Trucks of food are going to those places where the government has got support, while the people of Bulawayo are not given any sugar and any mealie meal," he said, referring to cornmeal, the national staple food. Zimbabwe's economy has been in a tailspin over the past five years, due mostly to a collapse in agriculture production caused by successive droughts and the seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to landless blacks. Source: SA M&G/ZNews
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