HARARE – Government has directed schools in provinces threatened by Tropical Cyclone Freddy to shut down on Friday as a precautionary measure to safeguard learners from the hostile weather phenomenon.
In a statement Thursday, Primary and Secondary Education secretary Tumisang Thabela said learners from Manicaland, Masvingo, Mashonaland East and Central as well as Harare provinces should not attend physical classes 24 and 25 February.
“Tropical Storm Freddy may bring heavy rains over Eastern Zimbabwe and, thereafter, spread to other parts of the country from 24 to 25 February 2023.
“In view of the impending heavy rains, all institutions providing Primary and Secondary Education are advised that localised flash floods caused by Tropical Storm Freddy are probable in parts of Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland South, (parts bordering Masvingo) Mashonaland East Mashonaland Central provinces as well as Harare Metropolitan province.
“The above-named areas have been placed on high alert and as a result of this extreme weather likelihood, no pupils within the above-named areas are to attend school or face to face instruction on Friday 24 February 2023,” she said.
Thabela also directed boarding school learners to remain in their hostels and continue with their studies via alternative learning modes from the confines of a safe environment.
“Heads of schools in these provinces are advised to exercise caution by notifying day pupils not to attend school on Friday 24 February 2023 or to attempt to cross any flooded rivers,” she said.
In a Thursday statement, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority said more dams in the affected areas and beyond are expected to fill up and spill.
“Some dams in the areas where the Cyclone is expected to have an impact are already full and spilling while others are almost full.
“To create storage space for the envisaged inflows and to alleviate any potential loss or damage to dam infrastructure, ZINWA may, in some instances, require releasing water from some of the already filled up dams, thereby increasing river flows downstream.
“While prior warnings will be given ahead of the releases; communities downstream of dams are advised to be on very high alert and desist from crossing flooded rivers and to ensure that all water abstraction equipment along river channels is either removed or adequately secured,” said Marjorie Munyonga, ZINWA’s corporate communications manager.
At a post-cabinet media briefing Wednesday, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said government agencies were on high alert for potential flooding.
Mutsvangwa said the government had put in place measures including setting up of evacuation points as well as deploying aid and medical supplies at government offices in potentially vulnerable districts.
In addition, cabinet directed that SMEs and artisanal miners avoid going underground with the rest of the citizens also urged to avoid crossing flooded rivers.
Public transport operators were also instructed to operate during daytime.
“Cabinet would like to assure the nation that all these measures are meant to avoid unnecessary loss of life.
“The public will be kept abreast of all developments on the matter,” said Mutsvangwa.