Cyclone Idai and lessons for Zim

© THE recent devastation caused by Cyclone Idai has created untold havoc and suffering on the affected communities. 
Lives and limbs have been lost and the damage to property has never been seen before in Zimbabwe.

The overwhelming response from Zimbabweans, both local and in the Diaspora is quite refreshing. 

We have seen an outpouring of donations both in cash and in kind from all sectors of our communities.
The apparent death of institutional capacity and clear deficit to deal with any sort of disasters over the years has awakened the citizens to the need for active involvement and participation by everyone concerned. 

It is the realisation that we all can pool resources together, both financial and skills to better manage our everyday challenges. 
Previous examples, where there had been demonstrable lack of institutional capacity include the slow reaction to accidents and fire by the fire brigade throughout our municipalities; recurring medieval diseases like cholera and typhoid which killed hundreds; slow reaction to floods like in Muzarabani and the Chingwizi disaster.

Econet deserves special mention in the manner it has come out to help victims of Cyclone Idai. The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed concern is currently mobilising donations, worth millions of dollars.

The recent Econet-led initiative is a harbinger of bigger things to come as citizens become more involved in the economy.
What is becoming clear is the credibility of the characters involved. These are men and women of good social standing and with an untainted past. 

This should serve as an encouragement for more people of good standing to come on board. The Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa is just providing the positive leadership that has galvanised both corporate and individuals to contribute in cash or kind. 
But this effort is basically targeting basic infrastructure destroyed and creation of new structures. Pursued to perfection, we will end up with better and more modern infrastructure than was previously obtaining. 

The potential impact of the new infrastructure to the future of tourism industry in the province should be cultivated into the current reboot efforts.

In my travels throughout the whole country I have observed huge talent in the rural areas (both experienced and college fresh) that is going to waste because of lack of economic activity. 

These include but not limited to the following: plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, draughtsman, builders, teachers, nurses, Red Cross-trained personnel and foresters. The list is endless. 
These public works will potentially engage all these people on a paid or voluntary basis now and into the future.

Cyclone Idai has created a new culture of volunteerism in this country. We have had a good response from citizens participating in the mobilisation and distribution of aid as volunteers and at no labour cost. 

This momentum if spread around industry will ultimately boost CVs of all participants while boosting production and output. This will boost industry while contributing towards the overall GDP.

No doubt this huge project will be successful as it rests on bedrock of professionalism, patriotism and accountability. And it is riding on raw emotion induced by the level and scale of devastation by cyclone Idai. 

The poser for NGOs is that any foreign or local benefactor will more than likely put up their funds with this initiative as it transforms communities in a clearly measurable way. A realignment of the local NGO community will likely emerge.

The slogan-chanting politician will certainly lose relevance in such communities. These communities will shift attention to issues that impact on their livelihoods in a positive manner as will happen in Chimanimani and other areas.
This creates a window for the Diaspora community to channel their resources back home especially in areas of decent financial returns that may include BOT projects like road infrastructure, residential and commercial building projects, dams’ etc. they just require working structures and institutions as well as transparency.

New leaders will emerge from this initiative and some may branch into active politics through creating new political outfits that are linked to active economic participation of citizens. Good politics is all about creating a good citizenry that feels empowered to do more for the country through harnessing their desire for a better life.


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