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Chimanimani Hotel turns into a sanctuary

BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA

The acclaimed Hotel Rwanda is a movie that portrays how many sought refuge at a luxurious hotel in one of the universe’s worst modern genocides.

With their hopes of survival hanging by a thread, some Tutsis, fleeing the Hutus, hid at Hotel des Mille Collines, and that way they survived the conflict, but under the most trying of circumstances.

You would think what is happening at Chimanimani Hotel in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai is a scene from the movie, except there is no conflict in Manicaland province.

Chimanimani Hotel now resembles a relief centre, as its proprietors opened their doors for victims of the cyclone, who have been rendered homeless and poor.

The hotel, built in a hilly area, is now home to close to 500 people whose homesteads were destroyed by the cyclone-induced floods.

There are four roads leading to the hotel, but they are in such a bad state that more people who could have sought refuge at Chimanimani Hotel could not make it there.

Labour and Social Welfare minister Sekai Nzenza said there were about 500 people taking refuge at the hotel and revealed how they are using small vehicles to deliver food.

“At the hotel there are 500 or more people, while some 300 are at Chimanimani Primary School,” she said.

But a new crisis is emerging as there are fears that the sanitation facilities are not enough for the people that have sought refuge at the hotel.

To make matters worse, the Chimanimani urban area is cut out from water supplies due to badly damaged infrastructure, raising possibilities of waterborne diseases.

Chimanimani Hotel general manager Mandla Mataure described the situation as bad, but he said they would do everything in their power to help.

“Relief in the form of food is being brought in small cars, as the roads are impassable for heavy trucks,” he explained.

“We are also buying food from shops that are accessible and we hope the situation will improve by next week.”

The hotel and other lodges in the town have since stopped taking bookings and instead opened their doors to those that were left stricken by the floods, particularly those from Ngangu township.

The Cyclone Idai victims have been put up in conference rooms and lounges at Chimanimani Hotel.

It is impossible to tell how many people have died in the floods, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa saying the number could be in the “several hundreds”.

Hundreds more are believed to be missing and teams have been despatched to search for more people, but hopes of finding people alive are getting slimmer by the day.

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