Abel Zhakata Senior Reporter
Cyclone Idai victims who are still living in tents more than a year after the cyclone destroyed their homes will get new ones before the end of the year, a Cabinet Minister has said.
The cyclone hit eastern Zimbabwe in March last year, with Chimanimani and Chipinge being the worst hit.
More than a year down the line, some of the victims whose houses were swept away are still living in tents at Ngangu in Chimanimani.
Speaking during a national housing delivery programme meeting in Mutare yesterday (Thursday), National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe said the situation in Chimanimani is disturbing.
“Allowing people to live in tents for such a long period of time is eating into the value of their culture, which will have a negative impact on the values of our children,” he said.
“What culture is cultivated in these tents? The neighbour hears everything that happens in this tent.
“We must ensure that we provide houses to the people of Chimanimani by Christmas this year.
“When I was appointed minister, my first focus should have been Chimanimani to ensure that we provide houses for the Cyclone Idai victims.
“However, I am glad that I was part of the delegation when the Chinese Ambassador handed over a donation of US$2 million to the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works to expeditiously start working on the housing programme in Chimanimani. We will be calling for a meeting as soon as possible. All stakeholders need to ensure that we build the houses and get our people out of the tents before the end of this year. “Let it be our number one priority. We would have failed His Excellency, President Mnangagwa, if we continue pretending as if people are not living in tents,” said the minister.
Minister Garwe was responding to pleas made by the Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba, for a speedy response to the housing problems being facing by Cyclone Idai victims.
“The Chimanimani community was affected by Cyclone Idai in March 2019. To this very day, people are still living in tents. Their situation is sad and it requires urgent attention. It is an embarrassment that more than a year down the line, those families are still living under such squalid conditions,” said Dr Gwaradzimba passionately.
“The conditions under which they are living make me feel very embarrassed as the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Manicaland. Seeing those families in tents make me feel as if we have forgotten or neglected them.
“However, while it is work in progress, a lot has been done by Government to source resources to build decent accommodation for the Idai victims. We just need to ensure that at the onset of the rainy season, those families will be accommodated in their new houses. Please help us accelerate the construction,” she appealed to the National Housing Minister.
Last Friday, China, through the United Nation Development Programme, pledged an additional US$2 million which will be channelled towards Cyclone Idai ravaged areas in Zimbabwe. The grant, which is being implemented under the recently launched Post Disaster Restoration Assistance through UNDP and its partners will provide roofing materials for community housing, health and education facilities that were damaged in Chimanimani and Chipinge districts.
Meanwhile, a development partner – Business Friends of Manicaland (BFM) – recently handed over donations to women who were affected by the cyclone. The goods, including peanut butter making machines, pots, sanitary pads and plates, were handed to the women by Manicaland provincial development coordinator, Mr Edgars Seenza. Dr Nancy Saungweme, Ms Florence Sachikonye, Ms Sheila Matamisa, Ms Sue Peters, Ms Yvonne Mapungwana, Ms Christine Chima and several other women living outside the country are the brains behind BFM.
Speaking during the hand-over ceremony, BFM coordinator and Ambassador designate, Dr Saungweme said another consignment of clothes, shoes and kitchen utensils, is expected from the United Kingdom soon.
“We are not tiring in donating to Cyclone Idai victims, especially women as they were the most affected. This is an ongoing initiative that is aimed at assisting affected people.
“The container with the second consignment was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Dr Saungweme.