By John Cassim
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AA) – Even a year after the intense Cyclone Idai hit southern African nations of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, uprooting two million people, survivors are finding a tough time to get back on their feet.
High speed winds that unleased the region from March 4-21 last year killed 1,300 people in Mozambique and 350 people in Zimbabwe, besides damaging properties worth billions of dollars and wiping out the livelihoods of millions.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, many victims blamed the indifference of stakeholders, loss of interest by international organizations and corruption at local levels responsible for their plight and a hindrance to the process of their rehabilitation.
Sitting in her kitchen under a ragged tent in a makeshift camp in Zimbabwe’s Ngangu town in Chimanimani region, frail Enna Muvhuni, 76, is preparing her breakfast comprised of pulp (thick mealie meal and water porridge) and blackjack leaves. She has no cooking oil but just salt to garnish her breakfast. She had received food aid in last December.
Enna lost her son and a grandchild on that fateful day when the cyclone hit her area. She is living alone in her tent in the camp, which houses 121 more such internally displaced families. With no means to earn a livelihood, they rely on food aid disbursed by voluntary groups. Even that aid was last disbursed almost five months ago.
“I had my house. Living in a tent and alone at my age is very difficult. There is no privacy and security here,” she told Anadolu Agency. Pointing out towards tattered tents, with rainwater dripping from its holes drenching her clothes and blankets, Enna has been living on edges over the past one year.
Her neighbor in the camp, Memory Zhuwawo, 38, narrates a similar story.
“It is a year now since we lost our home, furniture and small business. This place is rainy and I cannot afford to put my items on the floor,” she said. His two kids were swept away by the winds when they were fast asleep in the house. She now lives with her husband Simba and four other children who had survived the disaster.
Simba complains that her 13 years old daughter and other children have to sleep here with us in this tiny tent, affecting privacy. “It is not easy when you have teenage children sleeping in the same tent along with you, “he said. “I wish they could just give me a piece of land where I would build my own house and restart my life,” Simba added.
- Haphazard food distribution
Godfrey Muparingwe, 46, is staying in another camp called Garikai, with nearly 200 others complain that the government, international organizations and voluntary groups have forgotten about them.
“The food distribution is haphazard at times they do not give us mielie meal -- coarse flour made from maize. They give us two liters of cooking oil, that is shared among three families, yet they make us sign for two liters per person.
There is too much corruption, you find some get plenty of food while the majority are getting little that would last just a few days,” Godfrey told Anadolu Agency.
Another female inhabitant in the camp, who preferred to remain anonymous, said some politicians from the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) are collecting money from the victims for more food and to allocate land on priority.
But the ZANU PF legislator from the area, Joshua Sacco, dismissed the allegations, describing them “false”.
Admitting that it was taking too much time to rehabilitate victims even after a year, officials blame donors and stakeholders who seem to have lost interest.
- Corporates back out
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa’s promise last year to construct houses for the affected people is still to show any progress.
Last year, six Chinese companies operating in the country were tasked to repair roads and build houses among others, using their resources. Econet Wireless a local telecommunication entity, also pledged to build 500 houses for cyclone victims.
While Econet refused to comment on the lack of progress, sources said that the company backed out after asked to award tenders for cement, bricks, roofing material to friends of some top ZANU PF officials.
Rejecting the idea that the government was responsible for delaying the rehabilitation of victims, local Minister July Moyo said it was all because some stakeholders pulled out from the efforts.
Joshua Sacco, a legislator, however, said, that the government was constructing houses for 633 people at Nhedziwa, 60 km from Chimanimani. But upon visiting the area, a wetland was found at the place earmarked for the housing project, giving the impression that building houses and rehabilitating cyclone-affected people was still a long haul.