The nation is mourning the death of 46 people following a head-on collision of two buses near Rusape on Wednesday.
Seventy others were injured in the crash. Rescuers fear that, given the seriousness of the injuries to some among the 70, the death toll could increase.
We are deeply pained by the loss of life of so many people in just one accident.
Our hearts are deeply pained also noting that of the 46 who died, five were children who were taken so early in their lives and had many more years to live.
Our condolences go to those who lost their loved ones. We hope those that were injured will be attended to and recover.
Accidents of this nature often leave some victims disabled; some might be left with painful, lifetime scars.
We pray that God enables them to adjust to a new life of pain and disability.
President Mnangagwa sent his message of condolences, as did Zanu-PF.
“Last night (Wednesday), a heartbreaking tragedy occurred on the Harare-Mutare Road,” he said.
“The great loss of life, the pain and the anguish of the families and victims are today felt by an entire nation. At this difficult time, we must come together. Government will ensure the injured receive the treatment they need, and the victims the support they deserve. We will be there for you.
“As we move forward, it is incumbent upon us to investigate how this happened, draw the relevant insights and implement tough new regulations to make these tragic incidents a thing of the past. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families. The people of Zimbabwe stand with you during this difficult time.”
He urged bus operators and their crews to ensure that they only use roadworthy vehicles, doing so responsibly.
The scene was horrific, certainly not for those of a nervous disposition.
The buses stood there mangled in a frightening manner and bodies of the dead, and injured were scattered on the road and blood was all over.
Some were groaning in pain pleading to be rescued having been trapped in the mangled steel, injured.
While we wait for police to release a statement on what transpired, we have been told that the driver of the Smart Express bus was trying to overtake a haulage truck and encroached onto the lane of the oncoming Bolt Cutter bus, resulting in the crash.
This suggests that the Rusape tragedy was a result of human error, a factor that police and the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe have always said, accounts for more than 90 percent of all road accidents in our country.
The Smart Express driver failed to judge properly that he could overtake the haulage truck safely and immediately revert to his lane.
He went ahead of himself and because of that error of judgment, caused the tragedy. If he had judged otherwise, it would have been avoided.
It is possible that he was responsible for the accident because he ran away together with his conductor soon after the tragedy had occurred and had not been accounted for by late yesterday.
Police are urged to track the driver down so that he can have his day in court.
The Rusape horror adds on to a long list of crashes that have killed many people on our roads.
The worst to be recorded in the country is the Nyanga Bus Disaster of 1991 which killed 88, most of them Regina Coeli pupils and staff members.
Others include the 1982 Dande accident that killed 61 farmers and many others.
In June last year 45 people were killed when a Zambia-bound King Lion bus rammed into a tree in the Nyamakate area in Hurungwe.
In August 2009 in an accident known as the Mhunga Bus Disaster, 40 people were killed along the Harare-Masvingo Highway in a mishap involving a Mhunga Bus and a haulage truck.
In March 2007, a commuter omnibus claimed 35 lives after it was hit by a train at a rail crossing.
Another Mhunga Bus in November 2002 was involved in a head on collision with a haulage truck with the accident claiming 37 lives.
As the nation mourns those who died in the latest disaster, we derive some comfort following the declaration of the crash a state of national disaster.
This enables the Government to move in to assist the bereaved families in terms of burial arrangements and expenses as well as paying medical bills for those in hospital.
Other stakeholders are also assisting, Nyaradzo and FSG.
We are approaching this year’s festive season, a period when our roads will traditionally be at their busiest.
People would be travelling to various holiday destinations or going to their rural homes to spend the festive period.
They would be in celebratory mood and in this festive mood; some of us tend to get overexcited, including the drivers.
Increased traffic on the roads and unbridled excitement create the conditions for recklessness which in turn causes accidents.
Once again, and so many weeks in advance of the Christmas holiday, we appeal to our people to exercise more caution when using the roads.
They must avoid drinking and driving; they must not speed; they must be more cautious; they must drive roadworthy vehicles only.