For the good of starving Zambians, Natsios said, Mwanawasa "needs to separate the diplomatic issue from this [food] issue."
In Shimabala, a farming village 40 miles south of Lusaka, Shikuboni and others say they hope the government swiftly reverses its policy.
Only recently, Shimabala was a bountiful collection of farms producing maize, cassava and other crops. But the drought has reduced the corn fields to parched brown earth with only a few dying shrubs.
Steven Grabiner, a food aid official, said the thousands of bags of food in his warehouse could feed Shimabala's 300 families for at least a month.
"I would rather eat that maize than die because the government has no alternative to the hunger problem," said Bweengwa Nzala, a 28-year-old farmhand. "The government was elected by us the people, and now we are hungry. We want the government to help feed us instead of forcing us to resort to eating wild fruits like monkeys."
"We are not afraid," said Florence Chisanga, who also waited in vain at Grabiner's food distribution center. "If we die tomorrow, no problem. What we want is food."
Times staff writer Maharaj reported from Nairobi, Kenya, and special correspondent Mukwita from Shimabala.