President Robert Mugabe has assured the nation that no one will starve this year despite the massive food shortage which will force the cash-strapped government to import about 700 000 tonnes of maize.
The assurance was made on his behalf at the weekend by Matebeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Cain Mathema during a campaign rally for Information Minister Jonathan Moyo who is vying for the Tsholotsho North seat in the 10 June by-elections.
Moyo has represented Tsholotsho twice as an independent but lost the seat in the 2013 elections when he stood as a Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front candidate.
The Movement for Democratic Change which wrested the seat from him is boycotting the polls though two independent candidates that are reportedly challenging Moyo are said to belong to the two factions of the MDC, one led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the other by Sekai Holland.
While Zimbabwe has experienced severe droughts before and has managed to avoid starvation, two of the worst droughts one in 1992 and another a decade earlier, resulted in massive scandals involving the importation of food and drought relief.
In 1992 the Grain Marketing Board imported huge amounts of maize a quarter of which could not be accounted for while some of the maize was later declared not to be fit even for animal consumption implying that someone had received a huge kickback for the deal.
A decade earlier, a local businessman Samson Paweni was jailed for 15 years in what was billed the biggest corruption scandal at the time. The scandal involved fiddling with drought relief supplies. Paweni defrauded the government of close to $5 million. At the time the Zimbabwe dollar was stronger than the United States dollar.