Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cyclone Dineo Ravages Tsholotsho in Zimbabwe
Tendai Mugabe in Tsholotsho
Zimbabwe Herald

Cyclone Dineo that hit some parts of Matabeleland North and Midlands provinces last week left a trail of destruction as most people were left homeless and counting losses of their properties that were destroyed by the floods.

In Matabeleland North’s Sipepa area, water levels have been rising since last Friday, marooning villagers.

The local Member of Parliament Professor Jonathan Moyo had to make distress calls seeking assistance from responsible authorities and other stakeholders to rescue the villagers.

Security forces, including the Police’s sub-aqua unit and the Air Force of Zimbabwe responded swiftly and rescued several villagers who were stranded as water levels continued to rise.

Local Government, Housing and Urban Development Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who was accompanied by his permanent secretary Engineer George Mlilo and officials from the Civil Protection Unit visited the area yesterday to assess the impact of the damage caused by the floods.

When Minister Kasukuwere arrived, the Air Force of Zimbabwe had already evacuated 187 people from their villages to some higher ground at Sipepa High School.

Reports from members of the Air Force of Zimbabwe on the ground indicated that at least 40 others were still marooned in areas dotted around Sipepa Centre and efforts were being made to rescue them.

The villagers pleaded with Minister Kasukuwere to relocate them to higher ground.

Minister Kasukuwere said Government would do everything in its capacity to assist the affected villagers including setting up a temporary camp at Sipepa School, pending a permanent solution.

Said Minister Kasukuwere: “This is an unfortunate incident, but we are happy that we have not lost any life. We are sorry that most of you lost properties including food, blankets, livestock, crops and your homes as well. Government will continue to support you. We are going to work around the clock to mobilise as much resources as we can to ensure that you are assisted.

“We want to ensure that, through the Department of Social Welfare, children get clothes and blankets to lessen your burden. We know food has been coming, but we will make efforts to ensure that more food comes to this area.”

Minister Kasukuwere said tents were already on their way to the temporary camp.

The villagers are accommodated in classrooms at Sipepa High School.

He tasked Sipepa Rural District Council authorities to immediately look for land where the affected people could be permanently relocated.

Minister Kasukuwere said, through the CPU’s local offices countrywide, efforts were being made to assist people affected by floods. “It is not only Tsholotsho that has been affected by these floods,” he said.

“The situation is the same in other areas such as Bulilima, Mberengwa and Insiza. I urge all our people to alert the authorities every time they are faced with disasters of this nature and appropriate measures will be taken. I want to thank our officials from the Civil Protection Unit, Air Force of Zimbabwe and other Government departments for their swift response to these disasters. We will send our teams to come and do an evaluation of the losses, but it is difficult because some of the bridges were swept away and we have to rely on air travel.”

Minister Kasukuwere and his delegation witnessed some touching moments were children and the elderly were stampeding to board an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter with small bags of their belongings on their backs.

Most crops in the area are a complete write-off and the people are in urgent need of food.

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