Zimbabwe’s military has received praise for its humanitarian work in the cyclone-ravaged parts of the country.
Soldiers were quickly deployed to Manicaland as soon as government officials became of the human catastrophe that had been caused by Tropical Cyclone by Idai.
A photojournalist, Anthony Zinyange, recalls an incident soon after the disaster struck when soldiers walked several kilometres to Chimanimani when roads were impassable. Said Zinyange:
They were full of energy and they eagerly wanted to get to Ngangu to rescue any survivors, and they jogged all the way, hoping to get there early enough to avert further loss of life, but they were deeply-troubled and dejected when they discovered that all they could do was recover corpses.
The gravity of the matter, which had been seriously understated in the media, left them ripped apart, but they continued to do their best, assisting those that needed to be taken to safe zones.
An elderly villager, Gogo Dhliwayo, narrates how a soldier came to her rescue at Kopa, the scene of a huge tragedy where an entire growth point was washed away leaving 300 people unaccounted for. She said:
I came alone, I got foodstuffs for their victims, but I am old and could not carry my load. A soldier came and helped me cross the makeshift bridge and carried my load straight to my home over there [about six kilometres]. My fellow villagers refused saying I should wait for my grandson to help me, but the soldiers did.
A motorist who spoke to Newsday from Skyline junction had this to say:
They are very good when doing humanitarian work, but when it comes to political issues, ummm, they are something else. I think the problem is the political leaders themselves who send them. Alone, they are humane and helpful, like a people’s real army.