Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Will government take full responsibility for its incompetence and negligence in handling Cyclone Idai

By Hopewell Chin’ono

I am worried and disappointed about the lack of systematic questioning on what went wrong with Zimbabwe’s disaster preparedness before, during and after the catastrophic destruction caused by Cyclone Idai.

People carry coffins as mourners attend multiple burials at the Chimanimani Heroes Acre on March 18, 2019 in Chimanimani, eastern Zimbabwe, after the area was hit by the cyclone Idai. (Photo ZINYANGE AUNTONY/AFP/Getty Images)
People carry coffins as mourners attend multiple burials at the Chimanimani Heroes Acre on March 18, 2019 in Chimanimani, eastern Zimbabwe, after the area was hit by the cyclone Idai. (Photo ZINYANGE AUNTONY/AFP/Getty Images)

Many of our people died unnecessarily due to gross negligence and incompetence caused by state actors that should have known better and done their work properly ahead of this disastrous cyclone.

We need to know what went wrong with the Cyclone Idai’s disaster preparedness in order to learn lessons for the future since global warming is now with us.

The opposition Members of Parliament shouldn’t just sit on their bums and do nothing in parliament, their responsibilities require them to hold the government of the day to account for its commissions and omissions.

The media should not just report on press statements issued by the government without asking the relevant questions.

Was the Civil Protection Department headed by Madzudzo Spencer Pawadyira aware of the movement of the cyclone towards Zimbabwe?

What steps did we take as a country to avert this tragic disaster that consumed hundreds of our people sending them to their graves?

Did the Director for Climate Change in the Ministry of Agriculture, Washington Zhakata inform the relevant Minister about the impending cyclone?

When did the director of the Meteorological Services Department Dr Amos Makarau know bout the impending cyclone?

Did these two departments present a report as they should always do to their relevant Ministers?

If they did, was cabinet informed and did it discuss the report, and if it did what was the resolution?

If not, why wasn’t it taken to cabinet? Will the Government acknowledge the tragic failures caused by this tragic INCOMPETENCE and will heads roll?

Did Cabinet discuss the standard Weather report and was Cyclone Idai reported on it, if not then why?

The Metrological Services Department has an early warning system, did they warn the President and does the Central Intelligence Organization check the early warning system that is available here: http://www.msd.org.zw

Does the Government understand the relatedness of this unacceptable INCOMPETENCE to the unnecessary deaths running into hundreds caused by its failure to do its job properly?

Why did the military only sent one broken helicopter? Does it not have working helicopters and if not then why?

Does the Air Force of Zimbabwe have only one working helicopter?

What does that mean for civil defence and more importantly, what does it mean for the defence of a nation if we do not have working military helicopters?

The South Africa military through its Air Force supported Mozambique in this cyclone tragedy!

We have Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and many other sister states around us, did someone approach them for help with their Air Force helicopters or not?

What does this mean about our regional relations if we couldn’t get Air Force support and help with helicopters from sister states?

Was the SADC Early Warning Unit system not aware of the cyclone’s movements before it hit us?

Did this early warning unit warn their member countries including Zimbabwe?

Does this not require a properly constituted judicial commission of inquiry since we are talking of almost 500 dead citizens here?

Will the opposition do its job by asking these questions in parliament and will the media zero in on these important questions instead of press releases?

Why did the opposition not raise these questions in parliament before the disaster struck since international television meteorological reports were predicting it?

Will the relevant parliamentary committee sit and raise these questions and push for an independent judicial inquiry?

Failure to address these questions would be the equivalent of giving the middle finger to the departed souls.

Hopewell Chin’ono is an award winning Zimbabwean international Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker.  He is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and a CNN African Journalist of the year.

He is also a Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Africa Leadership Institute.

Hopewell has a new documentary film looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe called State of Mind, which was launched to critical acclaim.

The recently departed music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi wrote the sound track for State of Mind.

It was recently nominated for a big award at the Festival International du Film Pan-Africain de Cannes in France and in the UK at the Heart of England International Film Festival. You can watch the documentary trailer below.