The Roman Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo has called the government of Zimbabwe "criminal" for refusing to ask for food aid to help at least two million needy Zimbabweans, the South African news service News24 reports.

"The most criminal thing which the Zimbabwe government is doing is they have not declared we are in need of food," said Pius Ncube.

"If the government does not allow food distribution, we are going to die this year, the people are saying," said Ncube, who has been one of the most vocal opponents of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's policies.

His remarks came amid reports in Harare that Mugabe was ready to meet with the head of the UN World Food Programme to discuss aid for his country where food and fuel shortages have worsened in recent weeks along with power and water outages.

Ncube estimated over two million Zimbabweans were in need of emergency food aid.

He reported "gross shortages of basic foodstuffs," saying people were forced to purchase products such as sugar on the black market at six times the shop price.

He said Mugabe had ensured fuel supplies were available in the run-up to the March 31 elections that his ruling Zanu-PF party won, but the situation since has become "disastrous."

"Such a hypocritical government," Ncube said "They tried to see to it that there was as much fuel as possible before the elections because the journalists were there but soon after the elections, the cars were waiting bumper to bumper."

"Trucks of food are going to those places where the government has got support, while the people of Bulawayo are not given any sugar and mealie meal," he said.