Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT will expedite declaring missing Cyclone Idai victims dead and erect monuments for them, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Cde July Moyo, has said.
At law, a missing person can be declared dead after a five-year period, but Government said for Cyclone Idai victims, that will be done earlier.
The country was hit by Cyclone Idai in March that killed nearly 300 people while 347 are confirmed missing.
Addressing journalists at Mhlahlandlela Government Complex in Bulawayo on Friday, Cde Moyo said the issue of missing people who disappeared following Cyclone Idai was hurting a lot of families and Government is working to give closure to their relatives.
He said his Ministry is working with traditional chiefs and councillors in the affected areas to validate that the missing people are dead.
The Minister said statistics show that from the 347 who are missing, 206 have been confirmed dead and Government is addressing the matter with caution so that no mistakes are made.
Cde Moyo said for instance, one person had been declared missing in one of the wards but resurfaced in Chipinge.
“On Cyclone Idai there are a lot of people that disappeared and in our statute that is governed by the Minister of Home Affairs, a person who has disappeared is supposed to be declared dead after five years. But fortunately in the Civil Protection Act, the Minister is given powers to vary that period because it’s very long, it’s affecting a lot of families. So we are working on this and we are going to shorten the period from five years,” he said.
“What we have done is I went back to Chimanimani and I sat with all the councillors and all the chiefs. There are 23 wards so I wanted to hear from all of them, each councillor telling us what happened in their ward, who has died; who has disappeared.
“I wanted this to come from chieftainships as well. There are six of them and they were able to tell us.
“This was in order to continue to validate that those who have disappeared, in fact they are dead. Those who are dead we know.”
Cde Moyo said the traditional leaders and councillors have set a two-month period ending on August 6 to validate the missing people.
“When we wanted to declare the missing people dead, the chiefs said give us time. And they started the process on the 6th of June in their areas and they know how to appease the spirits, they know that they can confirm that somebody has disappeared.
They have given us from 6th of June to the 6th of August, after that we can then start even for those whom we have written their names down. When I last checked, of the 347 that we said had disappeared, we have the names of 206. But we want to find all of them if we can,” he said.
Cde Moyo said after declaring the missing people dead, Government will create a memorial monument so that their names will not be forgotten.
He said the Department of Museums and Monuments is working with architects to design monuments for those who are missing.
“The President has said it is incumbent that we go to Ngangu, we go to Kopa, we go to Machongwe and put memorials so that we can write the names of these people once the chiefs have done the ceremonies that they are doing in their areas.
“We have asked the architects who are in my Ministry and there are also architects who are in the private sector. For instance there is one private sector company which has said they want to go and put a memorial monument at Ngangu.
“We have said we welcome that and we have said go and work with our architects so that we can have a memorial in Ngangu,” Cde Moyo said.
“But it will be better if we also knew those who disappeared and named from Ngangu so that we can say these are the people who disappeared and are named from Ngangu.
“At Machongwe, we also have another memorial and if we are able to find those people who disappeared from Machongwe and lastly the ones from Kopa”.
He said Kopa has the highest number of missing people as it is a trading area. — @nqotshili