BY XOLISANI NCUBE
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has launched a $614 million appeal to deal with the effects of Cyclone Idai, whose death toll has risen to 344.
Briefing journalists after a Cabinet meeting yesterday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the appeal was aimed at infrastructure development, provision of school and food aid in the long run.
“Priority continues to be accorded to the repair or construction of damaged roads and bridges, schools infrastructure, provision of housing, water, health infrastructure and large-scale psycho-social support,” she said.
According to the appeal document, food security and nutrition requires $292 million, water and sanitation requires $51 million, while the health sector requires $5,1 million.
“This climatic disaster has impacted on an already stressed economy as a result of two decades of sanctions and isolation from the international community,” the appeal document, signed by Mnangagwa, read.
The budget, according to the document, will help in the search for missing people, who have since been declared dead by Cabinet.
“Over and above the 5,3 million Zimbabweans already in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of drought, Cyclone Idai added an estimated 100 000 people drawn from Chimanimani, Chipinge, Buhera, Bikita, Gutu, Zaka, Chikomba, Wedza and Chirumanzu districts,” the appeal report read.
Besides that, Cabinet also resolved to send a team of pathologists to Mozambique to conduct DNA tests for those buried in that country after being swept away by floods following the cyclone so that they could be identified by their relatives.
Turning to the food situation in the country, Cabinet was told by Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri that the 2018/2019 farming season was projected to bring a low harvest of around 714 598 metric tonnes of maize.
This, Mutsvangwa said, was not enough and plans were underway to embark on winter farming and increase the production of sweet potatoes, potatoes, cassava and other small grains. This would be supplemented by importation of maize meal.
Meanwhile, government has set the producer price for maize and other small grains at ZWR$726, per tonne, soyabean ZWR$918 and cotton ZWR$1 950 per tonne.
“In US$ terms, the prices are now aligned to the import parity prices in the region. The review of the producer floor price is expected to result in increased agriculture production and, hence, boost national food security,” Mutsvangwa said.