South Africa's R300m reached Zimbabwe farmers

Cape Town – South Africa is satisfied that its R300m agricultural aid package to Zimbabwe has reached small-scale farmers in the poverty-stricken country, a government spokesperson said on Wednesday.

"We are satisfied that the South African aid was received by the targeted ordinary Zimbabweans," spokesperson Thabo Masebe told reporters at a briefing following the fortnightly Cabinet meeting.

Masebe said a task team led by the director-general in the presidency, Frank Chikane, visited Zimbabwe and reported back to Cabinet that the aid was handed out in accordance with guidelines set by the 15-nation Southern African Development Community.

"An interdepartmental task team that visited Zimbabwe over the past two weeks has also found that there was compliance with the SADC framework," he said.

The aid package consisted of seeds, fertiliser and fuel and was intended to help combat dire poverty and food shortages in Zimbabwe.

It was put together last year, but was held back by Pretoria in November in a bid to pile pressure on President Robert Mugabe and the opposition to form a unity government.

By late December, however, as the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe escalated South Africa began sending the farming aid to its northern neighbour.

Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai finally formed a power-sharing government in February.

Tsvangirai, now prime minister, has said that it would cost $5bn to put Zimbabwe back on its feet.

SADC is considering ploughing $2bn into the country’s reconstruction. – SAPA