Zimbabwe to spend $133 million on maize subsidies after drought

In 2020, Zimbabwe will spend 2.16 billion Zimbabwean dollars (USD 133 million) on subsidies for the staple maize meal. The country is seeking to keep prices of the most consumed food items affordable amid food shortages and high inflation.

Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube announced on state-owned television ZBC News that the government will pay 180 million Zimbabwean dollars a month on the subsidy programme and is considering subsidising other goods as well.

Zimbabweans are enduring a worsening economic crisis, probably the worst in a decade. Severe drought from the el Nino phenomenon has also left millions facing hunger. A United Nations human rights expert Hilal Elver warned last month that poor rains and erratic weather combined with hyperinflation would leave 5.5 million people food insecure.

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Low dam water levels have reduced electricity generation and the debt owed South Africa’s Eskom led to 18-hour power blackouts that have greatly reduced output from industry and mines.

The government reintroduced the Zimbabwe dollar currency this year. A move meant to end a decade of using the American dollar and other currencies as their legal tender. But some Zimbabweans still prefer the US currency.

The lack of adequate electricity and currency problem further pushed up inflation. Then the removal subsidies on electricity and fuel occurred because the government wants to prioritise. This led to protests and industrial actions.

But with scarce foreign exchange, this means that even after Zimbabweans started paying more for the power and fuel, the shortages have remained simple because the country had owed suppliers some backlogs from the previous government.

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