Takunda Maodza Manicaland Bureau Chief
THE South African National Defence Forces (SANDF), which is helping the Zimbabwe National Army in the construction of Cyclone Idai-damaged bridges in Chimanimani, said it will leave the country in December after completing its mandate.
South Africa, in the spirit of brotherliness, seconded members of its defence forces (118 officers) to Chimanimani to help rebuild a community hit by Cyclone Idai in March.
The SANDF brought state-of-the-art equipment and is already camped at Kopa where it will construct two Bailey bridges across Rusitu and Nyahode rivers reconnecting communities disconnected from service centres.
In an interview last week, head of the SANDF team at Kopa, Lieutenant-Colonel Delnot Njoko said they intended to complete work in 23 weeks.
“I am here in Zimbabwe to build the bridges that were destroyed by Cyclone Idai, he said.
We are not here for war. We are here to build the two bridges that will help the community of Kopa as they are struggling now.
“We will be here for 23 weeks and we will finish those bridges. The amount of people that came are 118 members to build the bridges. I hope our stay here will be welcomed and even the community is happy for what we are here for. We will leave I believe in December, back to South Africa.”
Government has started constructing permanent structures like bridges in the cyclone-hit Chimanimani under a second phase of the reconstruction efforts.
Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza last week said Treasury had released $220 million towards rehabilitation of the road network in Chimanimani and Chipinge out of the $226 million required.