Elita Chikwati and Fidelis Munyoro
President Mnangagwa yesterday joined the nation in mourning people who perished during Cyclone Idai and expressed gratitude to countries, embassies, local companies, organisations, churches and individuals that mobilised resources to assist the victims.
The cyclone affected Chimanimani, Chipinge, Masvingo and Chikomba, leaving over 230 people dead and left a trail of destruction.
The President attended a church service at the Methodist Church in Mabelreign, Harare, and was accompanied by Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda and Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services principal director Mr Regis Chikowore
He said the Government saw it befitting to declare two days of mourning and pray for people who perished and those affected by the Cyclone Idai disaster.
Across town, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga attended an exceptional prayer service for victims of the cyclone at St Gerard’s Catholic Church in Greystone Park.
In his remarks, President Mnangagwa narrated moments he encountered when he visited the affected areas and came face-to-face with the victims last week when he visited the stricken areas of Chimanimani.
He said he also heard heart-breaking narrations of how people died and said it is time to seek God as no one had the answer to this national problem.
“As people, we do not know anything. We only get to know something after it would have occurred, but God knows everything, even things to come in future. Job lost all his children and wealth, but he never turned away from God.
“We should accept this, although it is difficult, even for me. Sometimes we ask God why he allows such things to happen and also if he still exists.
“We cannot direct God, but we just accept what he has done. Let us pray and seek God when we still can as disaster can come anytime and in different forms. We are all sinners and we should all go to Jesus when we are still alive,” he said.
The President thanked all countries that have assisted Zimbabwe in this difficult period, including the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana and Britain among others for the support with drugs, blankets and food among other things.
He said he had received messages of condolences from British monarch, Queen Elizabeth and her family.
“The British government, even if we disagree on some issues, sent a message. Prince Charles sent a message together with his wife to console us.
“Local companies, churches, organisations and individuals in Zimbabwe have also sent and are still sending goods to help the affected people in the affected areas,” he said.
“We have some misunderstanding with doctors here, but they are voluntarily supporting people in the affected areas and I want to thank them.”
President Mnangagwa expressed concern that the death toll was increasing.
“Some citizens were swept away to Mozambique and because of the decomposing state of their bodies, we have agreed that they be buried in Mozambique. Some could have been washed away to the ocean,” he said.
The Methodist Church general secretary, Reverend Dr Jimmy Dube said it was the role of the church to console people and help them come to terms with the disaster.
“The victims have received food, clothing drugs and all the material things, but the Church should assist them to come to terms with the grief, so that they do not collapse inside.
“People are trying to come to terms with the grief and anger. They are asking God why this happened and why he remained silent and never alerted them. Some are even asking is there God while others ask God why people have perished through floods when He had made a covenant that He will not destroy humanity through floods.
President Mnangagwa gives his offering during a church service in honour of Cyclone Idai victims in Mabelreign, Harare, yesterday
“We do not have answers. Today is an important day as it allows healing. We cannot continue as if nothing as happened. We have come together to express our grief and God will heal us of the trauma. The church should help us to pick up the broken pieces,” he said.
Meanwhile, a sombre atmosphere engulfed the Sunday second service attended by several people from the local community in Greystone park with VP Chiwenga in attendance.
The service was dedicated to the victims and families affected by the disaster as well as national healing.
Father George Hama led the church service.
Speaking to The Herald after the church service, VP Chiwenga made emotional remarks about yesterday’s service.
“In the aftermath of the disaster brought to Manicaland by the violent Cyclone Idai, today being the last day of mourning, it was important to pray for those who perished and to comfort the hearts of families of the victims,” he said. “We want hope to sustain them during this tumultuous moment.”
VP Chiwenda underscored: “We are all the work of God and He has the ultimate say to that which He created.”
The disaster that struck Chimanimani, Chipinge, Bikita and Chikomba, he said, had a profound effect not only in the affected areas, but the nation at large.
“Yes, we want people to keep the victims in their thoughts and prayers as the nation is slowly recovering from the disaster.”
affording the dead a decent burial.