Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday visited areas affected by Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani where she called for authorities responsible for distributing food to the victims to stop locking up food in warehouses but ensure that it reaches the intended beneficiaries as quickly as possible.
She was accompanied by Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba, Deputy Minister of Local Government Jennifer Mhlanga, provincial administrator Mr Edgars Seenza, and Zanu-PF Women’s League chairperson Cde Happiness Nyakuedzwa.
The First Lady said it did not make sense for food to expire while locked up in warehouses while the people were going hungry.
“We have received huge volumes of aid from the time disaster struck up to now, from individuals as well as other countries that saw our plight and offered help. Those donations should go to the people as quickly as possible. If things are there, they should not be locked up in warehouses. They should go to the people so that they get relief. People who are bringing relief want to see their donations reach the people,” she said.
“I am appealing to the leaders who are doing that (locking up aid). Please open the doors you have closed and give people what they need.”
She urged the provincial Department of Civil Protection to mobilise more vehicles to transport food to the people.
“If we keep these things stored up, foodstuffs will reach their expiry dates while it is in the warehouse. What would we have achieved if this happens while people are going hungry?
“Things like kitchen utensils and buckets should be taken to the people. They were brought here for that purpose. I went to Chipinge Hospital on Saturday. I was not happy because blankets have not been delivered there,” she said.
The First Lady urged all committees involved in food distribution to collaborate to ensure things began moving.
She said Government would continue to source more food for the people until they become self-sufficient.
The First Lady also castigated those who had been stealing food aid meant for victims saying this would bring bad luck on them and their families.
The First Lady toured Ngangu Township where she saw the extent of the damage inflicted by the cyclone, after which she visited the cemetery where victims were buried to pay condolences to the families that were gathered there.
“My heart is heavy because of the problem that befell us as a country, particularly here in Ngangu, Kopa, Hlabiso and surrounding areas. No one can change that. I know it is not easy knowing that your next door neighbour is dead, your houses are no longer there. Be comforted in your hearts and know that it was God’s will,” she said.
She urged the women to remain strong and urged Government, traditional leaders, churches, businesses to work together.
The First Lady also donated kitchen utensils, blankets, foodstuffs as well as babywear for expecting mothers, and she participated in the distribution of the goods.
She said she would send more utensils for the women who had not received them.