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Zimbabwe’s drought grips cattle, wipes out grazing

Officials say more than 4,500 cattle have so far died in Matabeleland south province.

Mount Carmel's newly-appointed manager Simon Shema, 60, poses at the farm in Chegutu, a 1200 hectare commercial farm about 107 kilometres southwest of Harare, on September 10, 2019. Picture: AFP.

HARARE - As drought grips Zimbabwe, it's not just humans who are suffering; grazing has been wiped out and thousands of cattle have died in the country's arid southern provinces.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube told MPs that Zimbabwe's economy was expected to shrink by 6.5% due mainly to the effects of the drought.

Officials say more than 4,500 cattle have so far died in Matabeleland south province.

The worst-affected district is Beitbridge, close to the border with South Africa.

State media is reporting that in the Midlands province, more than 2,000 cattle have died due to lack of grazing.

These are just the reported livestock deaths, so the actual toll could be higher.

Commentators are urging farmers in the hardest-hit areas to sell some of their animals to buy supplementary food.

Cattle are an important source of draught power and aid agencies said their loss would hamper farmers as they prepared for next year's crops.

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