Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
Zimbabwe yesterday launched a $200 million domestic and international appeal for humanitarian assistance for victims of flooding caused by a tropical storm, which left a trail of destruction mainly in southern and western parts of the country.
The Government said it was already raising $35 million for the same purpose and welcomed donors to chip in.
The launch of the appeal was done by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko at a function attended by several ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe, local business executives and senior Government officials.
The appeal followed the declaration of the floods by President Mugabe as a national disaster.
“The amount of destruction that was caused is massive and all we are saying is please can you give us a hand,” said VP Mphoko. “President Mugabe has since declared the floods a national disaster and, therefore, we are appealing for your assistance.
“Whatever gesture that you put to us will be put to good use. We are coming up with a structure that will ensure that whatever is raised would be used to our and your satisfaction.”
VP Mphoko said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will handle the funds from the donors to ensure transparency.
He said several areas across the country had been affected by the floods.
“The heavy rains were accompanied by severe flooding and areas most affected were Matabeleland North (Tsholotsho, Lupane, Nkayi, Binga, Umguza and Hwange Urban), Matabeleland South (Matobo, Umzingwane, Bulilima, Insiza, Beitbridge and Gwanda), Midlands (Gokwe North, Gokwe and Mberengwa), Masvingo (Chivi, Mwenezi, Chiredzi, Masvingo Rural and Bikita), Mashonaland West (Kariba, Zvimba and Hurungwe, Manicaland (Mutare Rural, Mutasa, Buhera, Chipinge and Chimanimani), Mashonaland Central (Guruve and Mt Darwin), Chitungwiza and Mabvuku, Epworth, Waterfalls, Hopley and Budiriro in Harare Metropolitan province.
“The worst affected district is Tsholotsho where a total of 859 people were left homeless and are currently in a transit camp and an additional 100 households are at risk.”
VP Mphoko said 246 people died as a result of the floods.
“The situation resulted in the loss of a cumulative 246 human lives due to lightning strikes, drowning and landslides and more than 100 people injured,” he said.
“More than 1 985 people were left homeless and approximately 2 579 homesteads were damaged in varying degrees. Exensive damage was also caused to infrastructure namely roads, bridges, schools, health institutions and dams.”
Speaking at the same occasion, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said Government would raise $35 million to assist the victims.
“The damage arising in terms of lives lost is unprecedented,” he said.
“The damage to social institutions like clinics, schools hospitals and roads is massive.
“We are estimating that to repair the damage we will need something in the region of $188 million to $200 million and as a Government we are not just folding our hands and we will raise $35 million towards that.”
United Nations Resident Coordinator Mr Bishow Parajuli commended Government for the response to the disaster.
“The floods came in just after the drought and it is the same people that were affected by the drought that are now suffering,” he said. “I, however, want to commend the Government of Zimbabwe for quickly activating the response mechanisms.”
Chinese ambassador Mr Huang Ping said he will consult his government on the assistance they could render.
“China and Zimbabwe are good friends and we feel for the victims,” he said. “Last year when Zimbabwe was suffering from drought my government gave 20 000 tonnes of rice and 10 000 tonnes of fertiliser.
“Up to now I have managed to raise $50 000 from the Chinese Red Cross and Chinese residents in Zimbabwe have mobilised $10 000 to rebuild infrastructure and I am still working with my government and we will do what we can to help.”