Abel Zhakata in Ngaone, Chipinge
Government will quickly resolve concerns and grievances raised by 13 chiefs from Chipinge and Chimanimani whose communities were ravaged by Cyclone Idai, President Mnangagwa has said.
While addressing thousands of villagers at Ngaone High School yesterday after holding a closed-door meeting with the chiefs, President Mnangagwa said meaningful reconstruction can only be achieved with the input and blessings of the traditional leaders.
The meeting was also attended by Vice President Kembo Mohadi and several Government ministers.
He said following the cyclone disaster, Government departments quickly embarked on a rescue mission and in the process, left out traditional leaders in the ensuing haste.
“We have asked for forgiveness and we have been forgiven. Our chiefs have registered a lot of grievances which we will act on in order to bring about rural industrialisation to the two districts,” he said
Chiefs from the two districts, led by Chief Mutema, opened up and told President Mnangagwa their grievances that bordered on the effects of Cyclone Idai and broader concerns affecting their communities and development.
The President promised that Government would quickly resolve their concerns and grievances.
He said Government was not embarking on piece-meal rehabilitation works in Chipinge and Chimanimani, but implementing sweeping rural industrialisation development strategies.
He said the disastrous effects of Cyclone Idai were an eye-opener.
“My ministers are not going to leave this place until all the roads are rehabilitated. We are not talking of repairing only those that were washed away, but upgrading the whole network. Those that need to be tarred will be tarred for sure.
“We received enough medication for various ailments. I want to praise doctors here for making personal sacrifices to assist affected communities. They are doing a great job,” he said.
He singled out two junior doctors whom he said walked long distances to reach Chimanimani and help patients in Ngangu.
“I do not know what I am going to do for these two doctors but I am going to do something,” he said.
Turning to the exploration of various agricultural and mineral endowments in the districts as presented by the chiefs, President Mnangagwa said more needs to be done to promote tourism, horticulture as well as ensuring that diamonds that are being mined there benefit locals like what is happening in Chiadzwa.
President Mnangagwa said Government was going to relocate families from disaster prone areas to safe locations with the help of traditional leaders.
He said strong modern houses will be constructed by Government in partnership with private entities that pledged to support.
The President said no mercy would be shown to those convicted of stealing relief aid. He also reminded officials distributing the aid to be fair and just, so that every affected family gets something.
He told the chiefs that when Cyclone Idai hit their districts, he was out of the country but had to cut short the visit to attend to the disaster.
“When the cyclone hit our country, I was out of the country in Abu Dhabi at the invitation by Sheik Abdul Mohammed. In just a day, I received the bad news of the cyclone and I quickly told my host that I was rushing back home to attend to the pressing need. He understood my plight and quickly offered to help.
“I told him that in the event of such disasters, affected people quickly require food, shelter and medication. He extended a helping hand and within days he sent three airplanes laden with an assortment of relief aid,” he said.
The head of State and Government and the Commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said the country received a lot of aid from local, regional and international friends who felt the plight of the people of Chimanimani and Chipinge.