By Jonga Kandemiiri
A severe shortage of the Zimbabwean staple maize meal has obliged some villagers in the provinces of Matabeleland North and South to spend weeks camping in queues at millers and supermarkets awaiting a chance to buy a few bags.
Villagers in the districts of Binga, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Hwange and Mangwe have been obliged to travel long distances to find maize meal, local sources said.
Villagers thronged a Lupane miller which is under contract to the state monopoly Grain Marketing Board, but the miller was said to have been unable to meet demand.
Flooding in the wake of heavy rains in January cut off many parts of Matabeleland and the GMB has stated that it has not been able to deliver in certain areas.
Mangwe lawmaker Edward Mkhosi of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Arthur Mutambara told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that maize hoarding by ruling party officials intending to use it to influence voters before March 29 national elections has made things worse.
Elsewhere, water shortages in Gweru, the Midlands, worsened over the weekend to the extent that police had to be called in to restore order as residents of the high-density suburb of Mkoba fought over access to a water borehole.
Gweru correspondent Taurai Shava filed a report.