TINASHE MAKICHI/ SIMBA RUSHWAYA
The government is on high alert amid fears that cholera may hit areas that were ravaged by Cyclone Idai. The cyclone has so far claimed 185 lives, according to Local government minister July Moyo, although he says the number keeps increasing as rescue missions begin to access hardest- hit areas.
In trying to combat the disaster, cabinet was also told by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube that he had injected a further RTGS$50 million from the Treasury, bringing the disaster fund to RTGS$100 million. Addressing a post cabinet press conference yesterday, Information minister, Monica Mutsvangwa said the government was seized with rescue efforts in areas such as Chimanimani and Chipinge where the cyclone caused a lot of damage.
Cases of cholera have been reported in neighbouring Beira, and there are genuine fears that the disease may reach the eastern part of Zimbabwe, where suspected hundreds of people are still missing. Five cases were reported in the port city of Beira, according to Associated Press.
“Cabinet received a comprehensive update report from the chairman of the Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management Committee on the ongoing rescue and search efforts in the aftermath of the Cyclone Idai disaster.
“Cabinet noted with satisfaction the considerable progress that has so far been made in reopening access routes to the severely affected areas in Chipinge and Chimanimani districts.
“We greatly appreciate the overwhelming response by local corporates, churches, individuals, as well as cooperating partners and other countries in the region to calls by the government for assistance towards the victims of the disaster,” said Mutsvangwa.
She said the immediate task was to make sure inaccessible areas get clean water and medical supplies.
“In the short term we want to intensify the ongoing search and recovery efforts, prioritise the provision of clean water and sanitation, distribution of food relief, medical supplies and emergency shelter facilities.
“We also want to hasten the opening of the roads and rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure. We also want to come up with a contingency plan which should address issues of land use planning, appropriate housing designs and construction, and, where necessary, the relocation of schools and residential settlements,” she said.
Addressing the same press conference, Minister Moyo said 26 areas has not been accessible since the rescue mission started.
“The figures about deaths are increasing every time, but those who have been certified dead are 185 because we give each family $1000 from the government. We are aware that cholera can happen, but we have taken precautions and have an active group that is working on averting cholera.
“We still have places where we have not reached and they are 26 of them.
But we can now access places such as Ngangu, Kopa and Machongwe that were hard hit, thanks to efforts by civil society and Zimbabweans at large. Meanwhile, the flow of trade along the Beira Corridor has been significantly affected. Information gathered by Business Times during a visit to Manicaland points to the fact that the suspected outbreak of cholera in Beira due to the Cyclone destruction has made the situation worse. Restrictions on movement of people have since been implemented.
Mozambique is divided into three development corridors that link its ports to inland parts of Mozambique and neighbouring countries: Maputo Corridor (south; linked with South Africa and Eswatini), Beira Corridor (centre; linked with Zimbabwe), and Nacala Corridor (north linked; with Malawi and Zambia). These corridors include a multiple transport logistics subsector and industrial developments.
Economist Gift Mugano told Business Times that the destruction of the Mozambique route is going to have a huge impact on trade and the cost of production for Zimbabwean companies is likely going up. He noted that the Beira route is the shortest and cheapest compared to the Durban route.
“Mozambique is the fastest route for Zimbabwe to the sea and also one of the major trading partners for Zimbabwe. Most of our exports find themselves in the Mozambique market. Therefore Cyclone Idai has a multiple ripple effect on trade between the two countries. In an interview, Mutare City Council Mayor, Blessing Tandi noted that the outbreak of cholera in Beira had made the situation worse, because such infectious diseases lead to restrictions on movement of people.
“The movement at the border has been hugely affected and this has been made worse by the issue of a reported cholera outbreak in Beira,” said Tandi.
“With a trade agreement for the import and export of agricultural produce for processing having been signed between the two countries in June 2018, the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai will negatively affect trade figures for both countries.”
“The two countries will spend more on resuscitation of road and other infrastructure and this will affect their fiscal budget performances,” said Economist Richard Mawarire.
Mawarire further noted that, most importantly for Zimbabwe, most informal traders were reliant on the Zim-Mozambique boarder for their trade and this is likely to affect household incomes in a negative way.
The storm made landfall near the port city of Beira in Mozambique’s Sofala province on March 14, packing winds of up to 185 km/h and bringing torrential rain.
Floods of up to six metres deep have caused “incredible devastation” over a huge area in Mozambique, the World Food Programme (WFP) has said, with homes, roads and bridges washed away.