Kariba Dam floodgates will be opened on Saturday afternoon to eject excess water from the dam and accommodate the large volume of flows that are building in the upper part of the Zambezi catchment area.
The release of the water comes in the wake of heavy rains pounding the country, raising fears of flooding downstream.
Heavy rains being received in the Zambezi catchment areas in Namibia and Angola have necessitated the early opening of the gates.
In a statement yesterday, Zambezi River Authority said the spill gates would be opened at 12 noon to keep the lake levels within the operational range.
In an interview yesterday a senior ZRA official said the floodgates were being opened to release excess water in preparation for heavy inflows building upstream of the Victoria Falls and in Angola.
The official said the area around Kariba Dam was receiving lots of rainfall and the dam level was rising quickly.
"There are a lot of inflows into the dam itself and from the tributaries feeding into the dam. There is also lots of rainfall upstream on the Zambezi River and we need to manage these inflows for the safety of the dam. The release of the water is meant to bring the dam to levels that may accommodate the anticipated heavy inflow that is building just before the Victoria Falls," the official said.
The authority warned the public and the communities living along the Zambezi River banks to take the notice seriously to avoid loss of life and property due to flooding that might occur after the gates are opened. He said efforts were being made to ensure people living down stream were warned of the danger.
Civil Protection Unit director Mr Madzudzo Pawadyira said the unit will today dispatch officers to the area to warn people of the possible danger.
"We were waiting for the release of the dates before dispatching our people to the area. We understand there are lots of rain being received in the area and add that to the water to be released from the dam, there is serious danger for the people in these low-lying areas.
"As usual we expect a lot of resistance but the unit will only persuade them to move from the low-lying areas. We will only encourage them to revisit their plans and to remind them that the relocation is temporary.
"We will also warn them against taking unnecessary risks by returning to their fields as there is a likelihood of being trapped by river throwback when the Cahora Bassa gets full," he said.
Police in Chipinge yesterday said several people in Middle Sabi, Manicaland province have been left homeless after floods destroyed their homes last week.
However, they could not give details of how many people had been affected so far.
"Floods have hit some parts of this province leaving some of the villagers homeless. As of now I don't have the figures of how many villagers have been affected," said a senior police officer in the area.
Meanwhile in the past five weeks police have recorded 76 drowning cases countrywide and urged people to take heed of flood warnings.
Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said the low-lying areas were prone to floods and people should take precautions following warnings by the Met Department.
"For the past five weeks we have recorded 76 drowning cases countrywide with some parts of the low-lying areas, having the highest figures," he said.
Snr Asst Comm Bvudzijena said Mashonaland Central recorded 19, Masvingo 10, 14 in Manicaland while Matabeleland North and Mashonaland West had seven and eight respectively.
The Met Department said most parts of the country have received heavy falls in the past week with some areas recording over 100mm a day. Notable falls were recorded in Buhera on January 12, with 134mm, Kwekwe on January 14 and 18 got 97mm and 120mm respectively while Henderson Research, Kezi, Binga, Mukandi and Karoi received amounts in access of 50mm over the same period.
Senior meteorological officer Mr Jonathan Chifuna yesterday said the current weather systems were expected to continue affecting the country maintaining widespread rainfall until January 25.
"The public should therefore be prepared for expected heavy rains, possibility of flash flooding and lightning," he said.
The heavy falls are expected to increase runoff into the country's major rivers.
Areas that are at risk of flooding include Muzarabani and Mbire in Mashonaland Central, part of Midlands and Matabeleland South.
The release of water into the Zambezi River is expected to worsen the situation in Mozambique where about 7 000 people are already at risk from flooding after the Limpopo River rose by two metres above the flood alert level.