By Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government reeling from being blamed for failing to adequately prepare for the killer Cyclone Idai that ripped through the country over a week ago has come out guns blazing against the abuse of social media amid reports of a fresh hostile weather pattern approaching.
Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, told journalists at a press briefing in Harare, Monday that social media claims of an impending Cyclone Joaninia were meant to cause panic and avoidable despondency.
Mutsvangwa said the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) was the authoritative institution that advises people on weather-related information.
“While it understandable that people are anxious, if not jittery in the wake of the colossal calamity in the name of Cyclone Idai, it is still strongly advisable that people should rely on correct information to avoid undue panic and avoidable despondency,” said Mutsvangwa.
“The new phenomenon of social media is not an official and authoritative source of information as often it is replete with rumour falsehoods and downright mischief which should be taken with caution. Any information from purported international weather forecast that indicate that Cyclone Joanina is gathering momentum in the Indian Ocean and will affect Zimbabwe is not correct.”
Mutsvangwa however admitted that while Cyclone Joanina was real, it was based in the Indian Ocean far away from the African continent.
“So far expert evidence suggests that Cyclone Joanina will start and end in the Indian Ocean, not even affecting Madagascar, which shields the sub-continent from the high seas.
“Zimbabwe’s MSD is continually monitoring the weather developments in the Indian Ocean, including Cyclone Joanina and will keep the nation informed through mainstream and the national broadcaster,” the Cabinet Minister said.
Hundreds of people were killed by Cyclone Idai in Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East with massive infrastructural damage that could take years to repair. Hundreds more people are still missing with the UN indicating nearly two million people had been affected by southern Africa’s worst natural disaster in living memory.