By Mugove Tafirenyika
Confusion is reigning supreme in government amid conflicting signals over fresh flooding fears in Burma Valley, Manicaland.
Following reports that Manyera Dam wall in Burma Valley had weakened, and could give in to the high volumes of water, the ministry of Information issued a warning on Sunday — on behalf of the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) — to residents of the area to evacuate to higher ground.
Government also issued another warning to Masvingo residents to evacuate following reports of a possible volcano erupting in Bikita. But before the end of day Sunday, the cautionary statements were withdrawn, with government saying the reports were misleading.
“Good news. We have been informed that checks by engineers have confirmed that both Witchood and Manyera dams are structurally safe. The earlier cautionary announcement is withdrawn. We thank the agencies for acting on this in a timely manner and avoided unnecessary disruption,” the ministry tweeted again.
The CPU also weighed in saying the volcano fears in Bikita were misleading as there was a rock fall in Mapadza Mountain which caused smoking.
According to the directorate, a large rock weighing 10 to 15 tonnes fell on Saturday causing some houses on the foot of the mountain to crack.
With regards Manyere Dam, the directorate said while the reservoir had been spilling ever since Cyclone Idai, the dam wall was intact and safe.
With the CPU and Information ministry frantically trying to retract their earlier statements, the ministry of Local Government has added to the confusion.
Local Government minister July Moyo said engineers from the ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement visited Manyere Dam and gathered that it had been partly damaged and that plans were underway to evacuate about 37 families staying on the downstream of the dam.
“We gathered that part of the dam wall was damaged, but reports indicate that water levels are now going down,” Moyo said.
“We are now in discussion with people responsible for planning and resettlement to organise that the families staying in the downstream area of the dam are moved upstream. Anything can happen in future and it is important to take the necessary precaution measures,” said Moyo.
The confusion has enlisted angry reactions from members of the general public who are accusing government of raising false alarm before verifying facts.
Former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo was scathing in his assessment of government’s reaction, describing it as irresponsible.
“As government, you must learn to look before you leap. It’s a criminal offence to shout ‘fire’ in a theatre when you don’t know for a fact that there’s a fire.
“On what basis did you make your original notification, calling on the community to evacuate to higher ground? Irresponsible!” charged Moyo on Twitter. DailyNews