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Sub-Saharan Africa faces grave hunger in 2020 – UN report

At the dawn of the next decade, a new World Food Programme WFP forecast of global hunger hotspots has revealed that escalating hunger will challenge sub-Saharan Africa in the first half of 2020.

According to the WFP 2020 Global Hotspots Report, millions of people in Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central Sahel region will require life-saving food assistance in the coming months- the sheer scale and complexity of which will stretch the UN food relief agency’s capacity to the limit and require generous donor support for a ramped-up humanitarian response.

WFP Executive Director David Beasley spelled out ‘’WFP is fighting big and complex humanitarian battles on several fronts at the start of 2020. In some countries, we are seeing conflict and instability combine with climate extremes to force people from their homes, farms and places of work. In others, climate shocks are occurring alongside economic collapse and leaving millions on the brink of destitution and hunger’’

Against the backdrop of an imploding economy and when Zimbabwe is entering the peak of its lean season and food is at its most scarce, WFP observed that the country has more hungry people now than it has had over the past decade. And as concerns grow over the impact of a regional drought that could drag even more countries down in the first months of the year, WFP is planning assistance for some four million people in Zimbabwe.

‘’Last year, WFP was called upon to bring urgent large-scale relief to Yemen, Mozambique after Cyclone Idai, Burkina Faso and so many other crises to avert famine’’ said Margot Van Der Velden, WFP Director of Emergencies. ''But the world is an unforgiving place and as we turn the page into 2020, WFP is confronting new, monumental humanitarian challenges that we need to address with real urgency’’

Elsewhere, the report says rapidly evolving political and social crisis in Haiti is raising alarm, while Afghanistan continues to face insecurity combined with drought, leaving millions of people uncertain of where their next meal will come from. WFP is the frontline agency responding to emergencies and strengthening people’s preparedness and ability to cope in the face of crises.

The largest humanitarian agency working to both save and change lives, WFP is primed 24/7 to step up support wherever needed, given sufficient funding and access. However, the agency estimates it will require more than 10 Billion US Dollars to fully fund all of its operations in more than 80 countries around the world in 2020.

According to WFP, Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst drought in decades, with temperatures hitting over 40 degrees Celsius. Food production has been severely affected, driven by climate change, the drought is exacerbating Zimbabwe’s severe economic crisis and causing a humanitarian emergency characterised by hyperinflation and rising food security. Food insecurity levels are the highest in a decade. The report underlined that half the population, 7.7 million people, is food insecure, with the 2019 cereal harvest falling more than 50 per cent short of needs for the 2019-20 lean season.

The group, however, indicated that it will double its assistance to reach up to 4.1 million of the hardest-hit Zimbabweans. It will switch to distributing food in rural areas from January, due to concerns over hyperinflation and reduced availability of commodities in rural markets. WFP is supporting efforts to boost communities’ resilience to crisis, from small dams to retain precious water to vegetable gardens to grow crops.

South Sudan remains embroiled in local conflicts, while trying to rebuild after a fragile peace dealt in September 2018 sought to end a deadly civil war that displaced 3.8 million people. A crippled economy, poorly functioning markets, lack of infrastructure and climate shocks all hamper recovery efforts. The report further indicated that parts of the country were hammered by severe drought and flooding in 2019, which has affected close to 1 million people and destroyed over 730 thousand metric tons of cereals.

Livestock such as cattle, goats and sheep perished, and grazing pasture was wiped out. It was also shared that levels of hunger are expected to dramatically worsen in the coming months unless assistance is increased, with half the population- 7.5 million people- projected to need support inn 2020.01.28 in response to this, WFP reached over 4.6 million people in 2019, including 740 thousand flood-affected people who received food and nutrition assistance.

The group also provides cash and deploys all-terrain vehicles and aircraft to reach the most remote communities, while also carrying out road repairs. Efforts to build resilience to shocks include training smallholder farmers in post-harvest storage and access to markets. Further, Southern African has experienced a stream of devastating climate chocks in the past year, with harvests failing as western and central areas of the region suffer the worst drought in 35 years.

A total 45 million people across Southern African will be severely food insecure at the peak of the lean season from January to March 2020. However, WFP is providing transport and procuring pulses to complement government distributions in Zambia. In addition, WFP is assessing further activities including cash-based distributions in Namibia, as well as technical assistance to the government of Angola’s emergency response.

Meanwhile, WFP called for increased support as eight million people in Zimbabwe face hunger. In a press statement released in December, WFP said roughly half the population of Zimbabwe, or approximately eight million people are not getting enough to eat. Zimbabwe, once known as an African breadbasket, has been hit hard by three consecutive years of drought. As a result, the maize harvest dropped by 50 per cent in 2019 as compared to 2018. To meet increasing needs, WFP was forced to launch an emergency lean season assistance programme in August, months earlier than expected.

Hilal Elver, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, visited Zimbabwe in November where she witnessed how women and children are bearing the brunt of the crisis. ‘’In a desperate effort to find alternative means of livelihood, some women and children are resorting to coping mechanisms that violate their most fundamental human rights and freedoms. As a result, school drop-outs, early marriages, domestic violence, prostitution and sexual exploitation are on the rise throughout Zimbabwe’’ she said in a statement following her 11-day mission.

The hunger crisis comes as Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic downturn in a decade. Runaway inflation is just one of the symptoms, and it has put the price of basic goods beyond the reach of the average citizen. WFP reported that bread is now 20 times more expensive than it was six months ago. Increasing hardship is forcing families to skip meals, take children out of school, or sell off livestock, among other desperate measures.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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