ZIMBABWE’S complex socio-political crisis is likely to persist into 2023, with more humanitarian aid needed to avert a severe food challenge worsened by economic implosion, a new report indicates.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsne), a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food security, says as 2023 nears, the outlook remains gloomy.
“Volatile macro-economic conditions are expected to prevail throughout the outlook period with continued inflationary pressures, depreciation of the local currency, and increases in the cost of living,” the report reads.
The report painted a gloomy economic picture beyond 2023, saying the interbank rate, now the sole legal foreign currency exchange rate, will likely continue increasing during the outlook period and parallel market exchange rates will likely stay well above interbank rates.
“Sellers demanding payments in US dollars will likely continue and increase in the formal and informal sectors. Shortages of Zimbabwe dollar cash will likely continue, resulting in premium charges on non-cash Zimdollar payments using mobile money/electronic transfers.”
“Shortages of locally produced essential goods, such as cooking oil and maize-meal, are expected to continue. Some basic commodities will likely emerge on the black market but will be limited by cheaper imports,” the report shows.
“From November through January, labour opportunities and rates will likely be near-normal, given the forecasts for a favourable 2022/23 rainfall and agricultural season.”
The report also says poor harvests and price volatility are likely to result in an early lean season and widespread crisis, with humanitarian food needs set to continue to increase steadily through January 2023.
Geo-political tensions which have disrupted food supply chains will also negatively impact developing countries like Zimbabwe, experts say. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on 24 February, was cited as another factor that has worsened the Zimbabwean crisis together with the macro-economic instability, marked by spiking parallel market foreign currency exchange rates.
“Zimbabwe’s macro-economic situation has remained highly volatile, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and its negative impacts on the availability and prices of key commodities such as fuel, wheat, cooking oil, and fertilizer.”
“High international prices and the continued depreciation of the local currency are contributing to below-average household purchasing power, thereby increasing the proportion of households experiencing challenges in meeting their basic food and non-food needs.”
The report also says the government has not done enough to push farmers to deliver maize to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), saying the incentive is not motivating.
“The government responded to low levels of deliveries to the GMB by increasing the incentive for early deliveries through the end of July from 30% of overall payments in US dollars to a flat rate of US$90 per metric tonne on top of the ZW$75 000 per metric tonne producer price. In another scheme to encourage early maize deliveries, the GMB has reportedly started accepting maize with moisture content above the traditional 12.5%. In addition, it has acquired dryers for its central depots to dry such grain to acceptable levels,” the report reads.
In early June, the Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) reportedly secured 400 000 metric tonnes of maize from Malawi and Zambia, expected to arrive in Zimbabwe in the next few months.