Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
China has extended an offer to help Zimbabwe rebuild infrastructure in Chimanimani, where most roads, bridges, schools and clinics were destroyed by Cyclone Idai which struck the district last week.
Speaking at the handover of aid for victims of the cyclone, Chinese Deputy Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Zhao Baogang said China had funds under the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that the country could utilise.
“We will be very willing to join you in the reconstruction of the region in Chimanimani. Houses, clinics, schools were destroyed and we can rebuild them; we can work together. The Defence Minister can write to us and make a request under the framework of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation. Last year we had a successful summit and $60 billion was provided towards cooperation between China and African countries, including Zimbabwe,” he said.
He said Government, through the Ministry of Defence, should propose projects such as the building of schools and clinics that could benefit from the funds to create better life for the victims of Cyclone Idai.
Mr Zhao and his delegation handed over three truckloads of goods worth US$200 000 that included tents, water, mealie-meal and other essential commodities to Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Minister of State for Manicaland Affairs Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba and members of the provincial Civil Protection Unit in Mutare.
He said eight more trucks would be arriving in Mutare with US$40 000 worth of goods for the people in Chimanimani.
Mr Zhao conveyed his sympathy and condolences to the Government and the families who lost their relatives and expressed desire to visit Chimanimani to mourn the dead.
He hailed President Mnangagwa and his deputies for the hard work they were doing to bring help to the affected communities.
“We want to also express our appreciation to the Government of Zimbabwe especially his Excellency the President and Vice-President Chiwenga. They are working very hard here, we see it, we feel it and we feel that under the leadership of President ED Mnangagwa, we will overcome all the difficulties,” he said.
He said the Chinese community in Zimbabwe had tirelessly worked to ensure that all the aid arrived in Mutare within three days.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri expressed appreciation for the gesture by the Chinese government and the Chinese community in Zimbabwe.
“This is a gesture that we cherish and we know that this is being presented in the spirit of the relationship that we so much enjoy from the time that we were undertaking our revolution to liberate Zimbabwe. We shared trenches with them during the struggle and we continue to enjoy very cordial relations with them at international and at bi-national level and we are happy that today they are here in our midst,” she said.
“This will really be a shot in the arm for the nation and the province and I want to assure you that we will put everything to good use. Everything is being recorded. We are very transparent and through our committee we will be able to communicate for you to know how we have distributed the aid.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the situation in Chimanimani was desperate and Government appreciated all efforts that have been made to bring relief to the victims.
She said the donation of tents would go a long way to alleviate the challenge of shelter for the victims.
“All our infrastructure was destroyed and this is something that we are battling to address because if we are to service the whole area we would find our roads impassable. It remains a desperate situation. Shelter is also a cause for concern. We thank you for the generous donation of tents. These are the first that we are receiving but we do require more because about 30 000 people were affected so there is a need. We appeal for more,” she said.
She said the Air Force of Zimbabwe was working around the clock to ensure that they ferry food to people in need of aid.