Clayton Masekesa

CHIPINGE – Zimbabwe’s poor resettlement programme that saw hundreds of villagers living in unsafe areas have been largely blamed for the loss of many people to Cyclone Idai.

Hundreds have died after Cyclone Idai hit Zimbabwe and thousands are missing and displaced.

The hardest hit areas – Chimanimani and Chipinge – had many villagers most of them Zanu PF supporters residing in the dangerous and unsafe settlements.

Zimbabwe parliamentarians that visited the areas on Tuesday to assess how the villagers would be relocated to safer areas were told by the local authorities that most of the villagers had not built strong and permanent structures, which made them vulnerable to strong winds and rains emanating from Cyclone Idai.

Chipinge district administrator William Mashava told the Parliamentarians that if the villagers had been resettled in designated and safer areas, the impact of Cyclone Idai could have been minimal.

Mashava, therefore, urged the Zimbabwe Members of Parliament to craft legislation that guarantee strict monitoring of rural resettlements to avoid situations where people dwell in dangerous and unsafe areas.

“Government must monitor rural settlements and ensure that rural structures meet a certain standard of strength to ensure the safety of the people,” said Mashava.

He called for forced evacuation of people living in illegal and dangerous places.

“Chipinge and Chimanimani are now prone to natural disasters. Last year we recorded an earthquake in the district and this year the district was ravaged by Cyclone Idai. We are appealing for the deployment of seismologists, geologists and forensic scientist to investigate these occurrences,” said Mashava.

Leading the Parliamentarians, the Minister of State for Manicaland Province Ellen Gwaradzimba said the government had resolved to relocate hundreds of villagers from Cyclone Idai-ravaged areas.

“A feasibility study is already underway with experts helping government on how we can relocate the villagers,” she said.

“We have identified places such as Nhedziwa, Parksview and Nhuka but we are awaiting a report from the experts who have been given this duty,” Gwaradzimba said.