Zim deadly floods: 'We only managed to save a suitcase with a few clothes'

2017-03-06 08:49


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tsholotsho - From kitchen items to livestock and even her house, Assa Mkwananzi says she has "lost it all" to floods that have hit southern Zimbabwe.

"We lost all our blankets, pots and cooking utensils, our goats and chickens as well because of the heavy rains," Mkwananzi told The Associated Press in the southern district of Tsholotsho, about 200km north of Bulawayo.

Since December, floods have killed 246 people, injured 128 and left nearly 2 000 homeless, Saviour Kasukuwere, Zimbabwe's minister of local government, said last week. Those who have survived the floods say they have lost their possessions.

"The only thing we managed to save is that suitcase with a few clothes," said Joice Ncube, another villager.

Like Mkwananzi, she is now housed at a camp where survivors are crammed in tents and plastic shelters and survive on charity.

"We have between 850 to 900 people here. They were airlifted by helicopters after being marooned," said, Sibongile Nyoni, an official with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development stationed at the camp.

Heavy rains 

For weeks heavy rains have been pouring in Zimbabwe, especially southern parts of the country, ending a years' long drought.

This southern African country last week appealed to international donors for $100m to help those affected by the floods, which have washed away bridges and roads and cut off some communities. President Robert Mugabe declared the floods to be a national disaster.

Just last year, a regional drought largely induced by the El Nino weather phenomenon killed livestock and forced people to forage for food in forests and seek drinking water from parched river beds in many parts of Zimbabwe.

Desperate for rainfall, some people revived a long-abandoned tradition, dating to pre-colonial times, of rain-making ceremonies. In parts of Zimbabwe, traditional leaders and spirit mediums, with the support of the government, led ceremonies atop mountains and other sacred places to appeal to ancestral spirits for rain. Others who no longer believe in traditional customs held Christian prayers.

The drought has ended and now people are suffering from the downpour. Some people in the rural areas of Matabeleland North province are unable to reach the safety of clinics and schools. Dams have overflowed, raising concerns about communities living downstream.

Dire situation 

Five bridges on major highways have been swept away nationwide, Transport Minister Joram Gumbo said.

In Tsholotsho, homes, mainly grass-thatched huts, have crumbled. Debious Sibanda, 20, is one of the few villagers who still returns to his family's home in Mbanyana village "to check out if everything is still OK".

Women balancing bags on their heads trudge through the mud carrying food for those still in the village taking care of remaining livestock. The rest of the villagers are at the camp, on the lookout for a sign of the arrival of food donors.

Zimbabwe's cash-strapped government is already struggling to meet routine commitments such as the payment of state workers' salaries.

Thousands of nurses in state hospitals went on strike last week over a lack of year-end bonus payments, straining an already dire situation at the poorly resourced hospitals. State hospital doctors have been on strike since February 15, forcing the government to send in army and police doctors to care for patients.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  floods  |  southern africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.