BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
TRADITIONAL leaders in Manicaland province have halted the planned exhumation and reburial of hundreds of people believed to be buried under rubble when the province was hit by Cyclone Idai in March, saying the exercise would only be carried out after they have conducted some cleansing ceremonies.
Chimanimani East legislator Joshua Sacco (Zanu PF) confirmed the development in a recent interview with NewsDay Weekender in Marondera.
“The exhumation of bodies was temporarily stopped by traditional leaders on the pretext that they want to hold some cleansing ceremonies. Each of the traditional leaders in the affected areas will conduct such ceremonies in the area of his jurisdiction on different dates. Currently, I know of Chief Ngorima’s event to be held on July 7. The traditional leaders are also trying to protect the national monuments in their areas,” he said.
The Cyclone Idai disaster left a trail of destruction in the Eastern Highlands, claiming the lives of more than 500 people and displacing thousands others.
Roads, bridges and schools, among others, were also destroyed in the floods.
Sacco added that around 330 people were still unaccounted for since disaster struck in the province
“Around 330 people are missing, including those believed to have been swept away into Mozambique. Those missing are from Ngangu, Peacock and Machongwe, but
Kopa has the majority of people who are missing,” he said.
Some of the dead bodies were reportedly buried in mass graves due to shortage of manpower and resources, as most places were inaccessible due to damaged roads.
This move angered the traditional leaders in the area, who were against such burials.
Recently, President Emmerson Mnangagwa met 13 chiefs in Chimanimani, where he apologised for rushing to save people without officially engaging the local leadership.