Whipped by Idai as the rulers watch

HOW much more embarrassingly ridiculous can it get? How much more arrogant and nauseating can it get? Please God, how much more shall we suffer in pain, agony, and in fear of both the fury of nature and the battery and neglect from our wretched rulers? 
Dear Mbuya Nehanda, how much more will you allow us to be humiliated and tormented in our country of birth? 

Please give us a signal Mbuya, a signal that the end is near, that our tormentors shall themselves be tormented, that the promise of milk and honey, glory and peace was not in vain but real, and that it will soon be upon us. Please give us a signal Mbuya Nehanda.
Nature is confronting us with the real prospect of a severe drought. 

It is clear that the agricultural season has failed, and the scorching heat that preceded Cyclone Idai throughout the country, literally obliterated what remained of the staple maize crop. 
Presently, government is struggling on wheat and maize imports, way before the peak of hunger. There are no publicised maize import procurement contracts and as usual, grain will not be delivered in time to save lives in the worst hit areas. 
This is a looming disaster. 

No adequate forward assessment, no planning, no mitigation. As always, our rulers are confident that donors and the international community will come to our rescue and so national resources are best allocated to the lavish welfare of the rulers.

We recently faced the horrible Battlefields artisanal mining disaster. It was not the first of its kind and clearly will not be the last. The Mines minister unashamedly conceded that warning signs of the disaster were ignored. 

The Civil Protection Unit (CPU) was haplessly helpless. And, while Local Government minister July Moyo, ultimately responsible for the CPU, ran around with begging bowls in hand, asking ordinary citizens to do government’s job, it was fellow artisanal miners who courageously and selflessly went into the belly of the underground to save the living and retrieve the dead. 
How disgraceful. 

We shall meet Moyo again in Chimanimani for Cyclone Idai. This habit of government running to the citizens to pay for national disasters was recently christened with a borrowed jargon term “crowd funding” by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube during the battle against cholera. 

Without the private sector, public and international help, the government was clearly losing the battle against cholera amid mixed priorities that favoured new vehicles for ministers, and up to now, it has not been completely wiped out and outbreaks are possible, worse now with the threat of  post Idai water-borne diseases. 

The CPU was completely mesmerised during the cholera outbreak.

The mandate of the CPU is concise. 
It is to prepare for, prevent where possible, and to mitigate the effects of disasters where occurrence is unavoidable. This applies both to man-made and natural disasters such as bus accidents, fires, collapsed buildings, earthquakes, flooding, cyclones, epidemics and all such. 

This is a real and huge responsibility that requires skills, management, training, international learning exposure and above all, adequate human, financial and other resources, in particular from the fiscal budget. 

Therefore, to hear that CPU was allocated RTGS$2,4 million in the 2019 budget is not only shocking, but also brutally and outright irresponsible of the rulers. 

This is more sickening when, according to the figures researched by Lex Vambe (March 20, 2019), we realise that in the same budget, chiefs were allocated RTGS$ 5,2 million and wages for state residences RTGS$3 million. 

How much more embarrassingly ridiculous can it get. This is the same government that is quietly delegating the save our hospitals initiative to common citizens so that the sick and dying of our nation can be saved. 
How much longer must we endure this vile despicable and uncaring attitude from our rulers! Mbuya Nehanda please give us a signal.

As if, all of this is not enough, the chief ruler took to the skies, again in a hired limousine, as Cyclone Idai whipped the nation, in particular, but not limited to, Chimanimani and Chipinge. 
Cutting short that expensive trip without fulfilling whatever he went for, is as bad as returning to only grab news headlines in place of the catastrophe. The nation has taken note that the entire week, each State media headline championed the initials, ED.  

Painfully, it will remind students of history about Kgosi Lucas Manyane Mangope (last homeland ruler of Bophuthatswana Bantustan), and Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga of Zaire. 

These are two rulers, who decreed that each news bulletin on radio or television must start with their titles, names and then whatever they did on the day, even if it meant telling the nation that they had done nothing for the day. 

Again, the CPU is mesmerised with Cyclone Idai. Again, civil society, donor and relief agencies, regional and friendly neighbours, major international powers, and, in an unprecedented show of unity that defies politics and neglect, the mighty people of Zimbabwe have risen to the occasion.

Not to be outdone by deputy Information minister Energy Mutodi’s pronouncements of all Cabinet ministers rushing to Manicaland and Moyo’s claims that government could not have forced villagers to leave their homes to safety. 

Here is my advice minister: Disaster preparedness is not CPU and meteorological weather forecasters announcing impending cyclones and seismic ground movements, no. 

It starts, in this case, with rural housing and village planning. Why do we have whole villages of mud huts on slopes without contours or any gulley management? Ever since Cyclones Eline and Dineo, has CPU ever returned with any training programmes or education to the common villager. Do we have known safe village sanctuaries? 

In addition, in the week preceding Idai, were there any real CPU activities on the ground to warn and evacuate, apart from radio, newspaper and television warnings, which the common villager may not even have accessed? 
The answer to all these questions is, NO. 

To make matters worse, deputy chief ruler publicly conceded, in front of a crowd, that the impending disaster was unknown. 
What a shame! And my advice to the chief ruler: When confronted with a crowd heckling their local parliamentarian in the midst of a national non-partisan disaster, the best is not to get hot under the collar, but to insist that the matter of the member of Parliament is very secondary if not trivial to the gravity of the situation at hand. 

To remind the grieving, downtrodden, miserable and hopeless villagers that you are their ruler and regardless of their heckling, you love your party representative is nothing short of arrogant.
All that said and done, and as the waters subside, real questions of reuniting families, identifying where their dead are buried or to bury (the true death toll may never be known), and finding closure, must rank pari passu with reconstruction, resettlement, counselling, and disease prevention and management, among a litany of responsibilities that our errant government must now take responsibility for. 
Homes have been destroyed, property and livestock swept away. Roads, bridges, clinics, telecommunications, water reticulation systems, schools, shops, have been destroyed. I am not sure how the (initial) RTGS$50 million disbursement from Finance has been computed or what it covers. 

But, by God, that cannot even start the process of healing, and government reparation to the communities.  Beyond our control, the road lifeline from Beira which brings fuel and wheat imports has been cut off at Nhamatanda in Mozambique and unlikely to reopen for weeks.      

Moreover, beyond this phase, we need to start the real development of a capacitated CPU. South Africa is currently on a programme of rehabilitating and strengthening old bridges and examining old city buildings that pose electrical and structural threats. 

Cry our beloved country.
Makaita Noel Mutasa is an independent political observer and commentator who writes in his personal capacity. He can be contacted on mnhmutasa@gmail.com  

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