Fidelis Munyoro Senior Reporter
President Mnangagwa has declared Saturday and Sunday national mourning days in honour of those who perished owing to Cyclone Idai that left a trail of destruction in Chimanimani and Chipinge last week.
The President made the announcement last night at State House, while giving an update on the disaster.
He implored the nation to spare a thought for those still grieving.
“We expect all our citizens, both individually and collectively, and in different ways which are informed by their faiths, beliefs and cultures, to remember all our dear departed by way of prayers and in whatever other forms and practices,” he said.
“Above all, the two days should allow us to concentrate and focus our thoughts on this tragedy which is sure to ramify in many ways in the lives of our people and that of our nation.”
President Mnangagwa paid tribute to Zimbabweans including different arms of Government, uniformed services and cooperating partners as well as foreign governments that provided assistance.
“I also recognise and pay tribute in a very special way to foreign governments, organisations and citizens whose deep sense of compassion has moved them to stand by us in this hour of great national grief and need. Our nation shall always be grateful for their assistance,” he said.
President Mnangagwa, who visited the affected areas, said the Government would continue to work with Mozambique — also a victim of the cyclone to ensure “as many remains of our people as possible are recovered and brought back home for descent burials.
“As we know, we have lost many citizens with the human toll likely to reach several hundreds.
“I came face-to-face with the horrific accounts of many who continue to grieve the loss of loved ones and are living in the hope of the recovery of their remains.”
“In Rusitu, I saw with unmitigated despair, big boulders recklessly strewn on what used to be a settlement, a banana market and even a police post. In respect of the latter, both the serving officer and prisoners were washed away, alongside other Government structures and private residences. The settlement was completely washed away and the remains of the occupants unaccounted for to this day.”
“Such is the horrific tragedy which hit us last week, one sure to stay in our memories for years to come. So, too, will the scars on individuals, on families, on communities and on our nation as a whole,” he said.
President Mnangagwa outlined a cocktail of measures in response to damages suffered.
The Government, he said, would intensify the search for all persons still missing from the cyclone disaster and recover and decently bury remains which are still outstanding.
“Ensure adequate food relief to affected families and communities between now and the next harvest, provide free medical services to all those affected by the cyclone,” said President Mnangagwa.
Government would provide temporary shelter to victims of the cyclone and provide safe and clean water supplies to affected communities as well as restoring key social services and amenities to affected communities.
“Restore communication services, both hard and soft, so that affected communities re-integrated with the rest of the country, take measures to prevent outbreaks of diseases and epidemics in and around affected communities,” he said.
The measures also include securing the lives and educational opportunities for children of families affected by the cyclone, begin to repair broken livelihoods for the affected families and their communities through a variety of interventions.
President Mnangagwa said Government would create safety nets and recovery programmes for the poor and vulnerable in the affected communities to help them recover and escape the poverty ratchet effect.
He said Government would relocate settlements to safer areas.
“Through government sponsored programmes support the rebuilding of stronger and more durable structures of shelter for our rural communities starting with families in susceptible areas,” he said. “Our whole approach to build environments just has to change in light of experience of this deadly cyclone.”
President Mnangagwa said Government would further embark on a comprehensive disaster mapping for the entire country and rework the national disaster management plan to make the nation better prepared for disasters in future.
After the cyclone disaster, President Mnangagwa said Government is going to build a national disaster fund to finance programmes and projects meant to fortify communities against future disasters and lobby for a sub-regional disaster prevention and management strategy as well as intensifying greater global advocacy and action against claimate change.
“In all these measures, Government will proceed by way of broad consultations at all levels and with all citizens to ensure there is consensus,” he said.
“For when all is said and done, a good disaster plan is one that enlist the support and involvement of communities.”
President Mnangagwa thanked Zimbabweans and all those who came on board with assistance to the victims of the cyclone for their support, sympathies and prayers in a clear demonstration of great sense of community activism.