PRESIDENT Mnangagwa returns home today, cutting short his visit of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to make sure he is directly involved with the national response to victims of Cyclone Idai disaster that has struck the country mainly in Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Masvingo.
The cyclone has killed 70 people and destroyed infrastructure especially in the eastern and southern parts of the country and the President will provide leadership during one of the darkest moments of disaster.
President Mnangagwa landed in Abu Dhabi on Saturday for strategic engagements with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
President Mnangagwa’s visit was at the invitation of the Crown Prince and part of his vigorous re-engagement agenda aimed at establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relations with other countries.
Zimbabwe has endured close to two decades of international isolation and illegal Western sanctions which have harmed the economy.
In an interview with The Herald yesterday after touring the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Wahat Al Karawa Memorial Centre in Abu Dhabi, President Mnangagwa said he was rushing back home ‘‘to be with his people’’ following the cyclone-induced challenges.
‘‘It is true that we have the Cyclone Idai that has come from the Mozambique Channel. It has caused devastating damage both on human and property, on the Mozambican side extensively, and also affected the eastern and southern parts of Zimbabwe, so I am rushing back home to be with my people as they go through this period of challenge,’’ said President Mnangagwa.
Following the cyclone, the President incorporated in his schedule a plea for assistance for cyclone victims that resulted in engagements with representatives of UAE Red Crescent.
A list of immediate requirements for the victims of the cyclone was submitted to the UAE Red Crescent.
These comprise food, shelter, medicines, sanitation and ablutions, power, logistics and lighting requirements and educational facilities
On medium term, it is largely building and roofing material for homes and institutions including schools.
Requirements for the medium to long term include earthmoving equipment, road reconstruction, water rehabilitation, borehole drilling and power restoration.
Zimbabwe also requires water treatment tablets for at least a million litres.
The Herald understands that the UAE Red Crescent is sending a team to Zimbabwe to carry out disaster assessment inventory requirement.
The President has declared a State of disaster in respect to areas that were affected by Cyclone Idai.