The Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa cut short a trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday to return home and face the devastating impact of Cyclone Idai which moved inland into the eastern part of the country from Mozambique.
The information ministry in a statement on Sunday said Mnangagwa had “shortened his trip to the UAE to make sure he is involved directly with the national response by way of relief to victims of Cyclone Idai”.
“The President has also incorporated in his schedule a plea for assistance for the cyclone victims,” it said.
The Civil Protection Unit said 31 people had so far lost their lives with hundreds more missing in the Chimanimani district, which has borne the worst brunt of the cyclone.
The cyclone has already left a trail of destruction in the neighbouring countries of Mozambique and Malawi where scores have been injured, property destroyed and many more displaced by the heavy rains and wind speeds of up to 170km/h.
In South Africa, the continent’s most industrialised nation, the devastation of the cyclone has resulted in an electricity deficit being experienced. Eskom said power imports from neighbouring Mozambique had been affected by the cyclone and as a result had implemented stage 4 load-shedding in order to meet the deficit.
Eskom said it was “unlikely that imports from Mozambique will be restored in the next few days, which we can now confirm was affected by the cyclone”.
The Zimbabwean president on Saturday declared that the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the country was as a result of the floods and heavy rains which have pounded the eastern parts of the country since Friday, a national disaster. Additionally, the bad weather had made it difficult to carry out rescue operations.
The government had deployed both the army and air force on the ground, private ambulances, council ambulances and government ambulances and all emergency services to assist in a coordinated way.