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Outcry over absent Mugabe

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MDC formations yesterday accused President Robert Mugabe of being insensitive and leaving the country on “autopilot” while on an extended holiday to the Far East at a time Zimbabwe is facing an emergency due to flooding disasters and shortage of agricultural inputs.

NUNURAI JENA/PAIDAMOYO MUZULU

Hundreds of families across the country were last week left homeless as the country experienced flash floods that swept away their homes. The homes collapsed or were swept away in Muzarabani, Mbire, Hurungwe, Harare and other low-lying areas around the country.

But the families were still stranded as government has not yet provided them with relief tents and food.

MDC-T spokesman Obert Gutu said the continued holidaying at State expense reflected Mugabe’s insensitivity to problems affecting the nation.

“It is scandalous for Mugabe to go on an extended jamboree funded by a bankrupt government while the country burns from floods that have left over 800 families homeless,” Gutu said.

“The MDC condemns such insensitivity and selfishness in the strongest terms possible.”

Spokesman for the Welshman Ncube-led MDC Nhlanhla Dube said there was nothing surprising about Mugabe’s conduct as this was a mere continuation of leaving the government on autopilot since Zanu PF’s December congress.

“The government has been on autopilot since the beginning of the succession machinations in Zanu PF that resulted in the congress which was a mere confirmation ceremony,” Dube said.

“This action is an expression of the fatigue that exists in Zanu PF while Zimbabwe needs a speedy delivery not only on the floods, but also the shortages of agricultural inputs that are now being distributed through party channels.”

Zanu PF critics said this was not the first time Mugabe had shown insensitivity to the plight of his poor citizens. In 1996, he went on a honeymoon leaving civil servants on strike demanding better salaries and working conditions. Only last year, Mugabe hosted a lavish $10 million wedding for his daughter Bona at his private Borrowdale home while the country was facing serious economic problems.

In Mashonaland West province, 37 families in the Mucheri and Gudubu areas in Zvimba and Makonde districts respectively were reportedly living in the open while others had sought refuge at relatives’ homes after their homes were destroyed by hailstorm.

Mashonaland West Civil Protection Unit (CPU) chairperson Christopher Shumba confirmed the development yesterday.

He said the families had not yet received any material or financial help from government.

“We are still to get help from Harare for the 21 families in Zvimba and eight from the Gudubu area in Mhangura district,” Shumba said.

“We are, however, grateful for the help that we received from the police sub-aqua unit who rescued 15 marooned people in Makonde and Mutorashanga including a man who had spent the night in a tree.”

He said they had sent a request for urgent assistance to CPU headquarters in Harare and were expecting feedback soon.

The CPU said the rains had destroyed 300 homesteads this year and claimed 10 lives in Mashonaland West and Manicaland provinces.

Some of the worst affected areas where humanitarian assistance was urgently needed were Mbire, Mukumbura, Muzarabani and Zvimba and some suburbs in Harare where water levels were rising.

Flooding was also experienced at Mushumbi Pools, Selous, Hurungwe and Lion’s Den in Mashonaland West.

The floods also affected traffic along the Harare-Chirundu Highway where some bridges had been submerged leaving travellers stranded for hours as they waited for the flow to ebb.

In a report still to be presented to Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission rapped government for its poor planning and lack of preparedness for natural disasters such as floods.

Part of the report reads: “State is the primary duty bearer and would have expected to take a lead in its effort to ensure the affected people have necessary comfort . . . food, shelter; schools and health facilitators.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Meteorological Services said record heavy rains in excess of 100mm were received in Mashonaland Central province’s Mvurwi, Guruve and Mt Darwin districts inside 24 hours.

“Heavy rains in excess of 100mm in 24 hours were received on Saturday in parts of Mashonaland provinces. Three stations had records broken for the highest rainfalls in the month of January,” the department said.

Guruve broke its 91-year single-day rainfall in January when it recorded 145mm on Saturday to obliterate the 90mm recorded on January 30 1924.
Mvurwi recorded 166mm on the same day to break its January 19 1990 record of 108mm.

Mt Darwin which recorded 116mm eclipsed the 74mm record set on January 18 1965.

The Met Office said it expected the wet spell to continue in Mashonaland regions and Harare while Matabeleland provinces would be partly cloudy and mild in the morning.

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