Kenya donates US$1m worth of maize to Zimbabwe

President Ruto

KENYA has pledged to donate US$1 million worth of maize to Zimbabwe, which will be delivered within the next few weeks to complement the Government’s drought mitigation efforts in the face of a prolonged El Nino-induced drought.

In his remarks during the signing of eight Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) between Kenya and Zimbabwe under the 4th Zimbabwe/Kenya Joint Permanent Commission on Co-operation, at State House in Bulawayo yesterday, President William Ruto called on the international community to respond to the declaration made on a State of Disaster in Zimbabwe.

“The effects of climate change threaten the lives and livelihoods globally, in particular, in the African continent. We are now increasingly witnessing devastating weather events such as droughts and floods whose frequency and severity are increasing,” he said.

“It is imperative that all countries, and especially the developed world, meet their obligations and commitments under the Paris Agreement and other multilateral environment agreements.”

President Ruto implored the community of nations to join efforts to combat climate change and to promote sustainable management of natural resources and the ecosystem.

“On this note, I wish to express Kenya’s solidarity with Zimbabwe in the face of the prolonged El Nino-induced drought that has left a severe food and humanitarian crisis in the Southern African region.

“We call upon the international community to respond to the declaration you made on the State of Disaster in Zimbabwe following the El Nino-induced drought. On its part, Kenya is committing to deliver US$1 million worth of food items, particularly maize to the people of Zimbabwe in the next few weeks,” he said.

Zimbabwe requires over US$2 billion for various interventions envisaged in the spectrum of the national response. 

The current agricultural season of 2023 to 2024 has not performed according to expectations due to the El Nino-induced drought. As a result, more than 80 percent of the country received below-normal rainfall.

The country had put 1 728 897 hectares under maize crop and other cereals, which ordinarily would have guaranteed a bountiful harvest. Further worsening the situation characterised by poor rainfall was the outbreak of fall armyworm across the country.

President Ruto also slammed the Western countries for imposing illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe and called for their immediate removal.

“Your Excellency, we both share a strong commitment to multilateralism and a rules-based multilateral system. It is for this reason that we have always maintained a principled position against unilateral coercive measures,” he said.

“Kenya regards the economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe as illegal. We will continue to support the call for the immediate and unconditional lifting of these illegal sanctions.”

President Ruto also thanked the Government of Zimbabwe for gifting his country with 100 tonnes of medical oxygen in 2022 at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Your gift is a demonstration of the true spirit of African solidarity that informed Africa’s liberation movement. More importantly, the fact that Zimbabwe has been able to develop local capacity to produce high-quality medical oxygen speaks to the vast innovative potential in Africa, that we need to nurture and promote,” he said.

President Ruto also wished President Mnangagwa success as he assumes the chair of the Sadc in August when the country hosts the regional bloc summit in Harare.

“Your Excellency, I am also aware that you will be hosting the Sadc Summit in Zimbabwe in August this year and taking over the chairmanship of the Summit. May I wish you at this very earliest opportunity a very successful Sadc Summit and chairmanship tenure,” he said.

“I was appointed the Champion of the African Union Institutional Reforms during the 37th Ordinary Session of the Heads of State and Government. I seek your support as we strive to restructure the AU organs, conclude the division of labour between the Africa Union Commission Organs, Specialised Agencies, and Regional Economic Communities, and to streamline the Agenda of the assembly to cover strategic issues.”

President Ruto also requested Zimbabwe to Kenya in its bid to chair the Africa Union Commission between 2025-2028.

This was after the African Union Executive Council, on 15 March, unanimously adopted the decision that the Eastern Africa region should submit candidates for the AU chairperson.

Earlier speaking during the banquet hosted in honour of President Ruto on Friday night at the State House in Bulawayo, President Mnangagwa thanked his Kenyan counterpart for the maize donation.

“Over the past four decades, Zimbabwe and Kenya have fostered synergies across various sectors of the economy. I was briefing my younger brother (President Ruto) about the drought situation here, and by the way, they have no drought in Kenya because they are near the Equator.”

“When I told my dear brother that we have drought he donated 30 000 tonnes of maize to Zimbabwe. Thank you, and that is what brothers do to each other.”

Early this month, President Mnangagwa declared the drought a State of Disaster, saying adequate resources will be mobilised and re-directed towards boosting national food security, including through supplementary grain imports as part of mitigation measures. 

Humanitarian agencies including the World Food Programme, which fed 270 000 people between January and March in four districts, have described the hunger situation as “dire”, calling on donors to provide more aid.

Sunday News

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