MINISTER Naledi Pandor.
As regional leaders prepare to meet at the SADC Summit in Tanzania this weekend, they are faced with unprecedented levels of food insecurity in the region.

According to the World Food Programme, 2.5 million Zimbabweans are on the cusp of starvation, and 5million Zimbabweans, a third of the population, are in dire need of food aid.

The country is battling the effects of a severe drought brought on by the effects of climate change and the devastation caused by the cyclone which hit the country in March, as well as an economic crisis.

More than half of the capital Harare’s 4.5 million residents only have running water once a week, according to the city’s mayor, forcing them to wait in lines at communal wells, streams and boreholes.

Two of Harare’s four reservoirs are empty due to the lack of rain.

Low water levels have hit the main hydro-electric plant at Kariba, which has also triggered rolling power cuts across the country.

On top of the water and electricity crisis, Zimbabweans have been lining up for three hours to fill their cars with petrol, and workers wait for hours outside banks to receive their salaries in cash due to the shortage of Zimbabwe dollars.

The price of bread has increased sevenfold in the past years and some medicines are 10 times more expensive.

“The world and even our region does not realise how Zimbabweans are suffering. We have no electricity, water, or petrol, and we can’t get jobs, and South Africans are wondering why we flock to their country out of desperation,” Precious Sibanda said.

“If you go to the bus stations in Johannesburg and Tshwane, the buses to Zimbabwe are full as people are sending home basic food items for their families to survive.”

The Zimbabwean Government has been unable to reverse spiralling inflation and currency devaluation.

“SADC leaders need to develop a strategy to address regional food insecurity, particularly in Zimbabwe, before xenophobia against Zimbabweans and other economic migrants explodes,” Jacob Muthambi said.

“Our region also needs to prepare for the worsening effects of climate change, given that extreme weather events and drought are likely to become more severe.”

Minister for International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor will lead a South African delegation to the SADC Council of Ministers meeting scheduled for today in Tanzania.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will undertake a state visit to Tanzania from tomorrow, before participating in the two-day SADC Summit that will begin on Saturday.