People have died of hunger in Swaziland because the Swazi Government has failed to deliver food to drought-stricken areas, a member of the House of Assembly has said.
James Simelane, Member of Parliament for Sandleni Constituency in the Shiselweni region, was reported in the Swazi Observer newspaper saying people had started dying of hunger in his constituency.
The Observer reported on Friday (15 July 2016) that he said, ‘We have started burying people who are dying of hunger. It’s just that each time a community member dies, there is always a disease that is associated with the death when in fact the disease itself has been accelerated by the hunger.’
The newspaper reported him saying there had been no agricultural activity at all in his constituency for two ploughing seasons.
Simelane reportedly said that government trucks carrying bags of food drove past his Sandleni Constituency to Shiselweni 1 and other nearby constituencies, while his electorate ‘watched in utter amazement and disgust’.
The newspaper reported, ‘He said some of the residents in the various communities under his constituency were now suspecting that he was the one behind government’s failure or refusal to distribute food in the constituency.’
He said his people could not understand why others were receiving food and they were not.
Simelane reportedly said his constituents thought the Swazi Government would suspend some of its projects to channel the funds to the fight for hunger but that was unfortunately not happening.
The news of the deaths comes just as it was revealed that King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, was about to take delivery f a 375-seater private jet at a cost of about US$14 million.
As of the end of May 2016, UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund – estimated 300,320 people in total in Swaziland were affected by drought of which 189,000 were children. It estimated that 165,000 children affected were by drought in the two most affected regions of Lubombo and Shiselweni.
A total of 200,897 people were food insecure, of which 90,404 were children. Of these, 8,460 children aged 6 to 59 months were affected by ‘severe and moderate acute malnutrition’.
Meanwhile, the Swazi Government has released only E22 million (US$1.5 million) of the E305 million earmarked for drought relief in this year’s national budget. The Observer newspaper reported on Monday (11 July 2016) that the Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini announced this to the House of Assembly.
The newspaper reported he ‘failed to explain the reasons behind government’s failure to purchase and distribute food to the affected communities’.
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