JOHANNESBURG, March 23 – The African National Congress has expressed solidarity with the victims of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, and called for the Paris agreement on the emission of greenhouse gasses to be legally enforced.
“The African National Congress is deeply moved by and concerned about the plight of our neighboring countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that have been relentlessly battered by tropical Cyclone Idai when it first made landfall in Mozambique and then moved overland to Zimbabwe and Malawi,” ANC secretary general Ace Magashule said in a statement on Saturday.
“The terrible magnitude of the disaster that the sheer brutal force of Cyclone Idai caused, and the devastation that it left in its wake, caused the United Nations to declare that it is the worst natural disaster to have ever hit the Southern Hemisphere,” he said.
Thousands of people had lost their lives, and the destruction of homes and overall infrastructure and crops was devastating and would continue to negatively impact on the lives of millions of people for a very long time. Preliminary estimations indicated that more than 1000 people died in Mozambique alone, and that hundreds more died in neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi.
The extent of the flooding in central Mozambique was massive and hard to comprehend. An estimate 1.7 million people were in the path of the cyclone. The Pungue and Buzi rivers had burst their river banks and as a consequence vast inland lakes had been created, extending for miles and miles in all directions, he said.
Large parts of Beira had been damaged, and entire villages and towns had been completely flooded. Thousands of families had lost everything, and according to the estimates of the International Federation of the Red Cross, at least 400,000 people had been left homeless in Mozambique alone.
“Conservative estimations indicate that at least 600,000 were in urgent need of help. Television footage and photos of entirely families, women, and children trapped on roof tops or holding onto tree branches for dear life with torrents of storm water mere metres beneath them have deeply touched the hearts of South Africans,” Magashule said.
“The ANC would also be amiss not to point out that the intensification and magnitude of natural disasters, of which Cyclone Idai is only one devastating example, is directly related to the scientifically proven phenomenon of climate change, and specifically global warming.
“While the principles of reciprocity and distributive justice was accepted in the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the failure to implement these principles and the continuing bickering over effective emission reduction targets – especially by the developed industrialised nations of the world, who are by far the greatest polluters and contributors to the emission of greenhouse gasses – has failed to deliver a climate justice arrangement.
“This failure, and its devastating impact can now increasingly be measured in the devastating consequences of cyclones such as Idai, and human devastation that it visits especially on the people of the more underdeveloped Southern Hemisphere.
“While acknowledgement of the principle of reciprocity in the Paris agreement was a major breakthrough and advancement on the Kyoto Protocol, the failure to make it a legally binding pact remains a major concern,” Magashule said.