Zimbabwe: Harare runs out of bread

Fri 8 July 2005 HARARE - Zimbabwe's capital Harare has run out of bread and the National Bakers Association (NBA) yesterday blamed the shortage on the country's long running fuel crisis that has worsened in recent weeks.
Long queues could be seen yesterday at the few shops in Harare that were selling bread and ZimOnline reporters from the second largest city of Bulawayo and other parts of the country reported that the bread shortage was spreading with many shops there without the vital commodity.

NBA executive member David Govere said the non-availability of bread was because the government's National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) was unable to supply bakers with enough paraffin and diesel they use to heat ovens.

"If a baker needs 100 000 litres of diesel, paraffin or petrol, NOCZIM is only able to supply at least 10-15 000 litres to every baker," Govere said.

"As long as there is not enough petrol, paraffin, and diesel there will be shortages of bread. Our ovens need paraffin or diesel for heating purposes. We will flood the country with bread once the heating commodities are there," the NBA boss added, dispelling speculation that the shortage might have been because there is no flour, itself in short supply after poor wheat harvests last season.

Govere said millers were supplying members of his association with enough flour although there was always need for extra.

The shortage of bread is only one in an ever growing list of vital commodities ranging from essential medical drugs to electricity to hard cash that are in short supply in Zimbabwe as the country grapples a severe economic recession now in its sixth year.

In some cases, commodities are not found in shops not because they not available in the country but simply because there is no packaging material or fuel to transport them to shops.

Three weeks ago, beer was in short supply because the manufacturer could not source enough caps for beer bottles, while sugar was in short supply because there were no polyurethane bags to pack it in for the market and all this because there was no hard cash to pay foreign suppliers of the packaging materials.

Inflation stands at 144.4 percent, joblessness at 80 percent while an estimated four million Zimbabweans or a quarter of the country's total population face starvation unless donors chip in with 1.2 million tonnes of food aid.

Critics blame Zimbabwe's economic meltdown on mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe and the frequent food shortages on his chaotic and violent programme to seize farms from whites.

The Zimbabwean leader denies mismanaging Zimbabwe and instead blames Western governments opposed to his farm seizure programme of sabotaging his country's economy in bid to incite revolt against his rule. - ZimOnline