Zimbabwe cholera crisis worsens

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Cholera epidemic has claimed nearly 1,000 lives in Zimbabwe, the UN said Monday. The world body said in a statement that, “the total number of suspected cases of the deadly disease in the African nation has reached 18,413”.

It also said that, “this is so despite protestations by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe that the epidemic had crested”.

It said that the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke at a closed-door session of the UN Security Council, lamented that the Mugabe government had not done enough to address Zimbabwe’s situation at the political, economic, human rights and humanitarian levels.

Ban described the situation in Zimbabwe as “a failure of leadership.

“Not only has the cholera outbreak hit nine of Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces, it also has spread to neighbouring South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique,” Ban was quoted as telling the council members.

The UN chief also told them that the lack of progress on the political front was accompanied by a “dramatic deterioration in living conditions.

“The current cholera epidemic is only the most visible manifestation of a profound multi-sectoral crisis, encompassing food, agriculture, education, health, water, sanitation and HIV/AIDS.”

He reported that close to 80 per cent of the country had no access to safe drinking water, and the vast majority of the population did not have adequate sanitar y facilities – the very conditions that have allowed the acute intestinal infection caused by contaminated food or water to develop and flourish.

He also added that, “Zimbabwe is mired in a crisis brought about by a confluence of factors, including three years of failed harvests, bad governance and hyper-inflation, among others”.

The country has endured months of political tensions after disputed presidential elections in March involving the incumbent Robert Mugabe and the opposition figure Morgan Tsvangirai.

A power-sharing deal on the formation of a new government was reached in September with the help of regional leaders, but outstanding issues remain, jeopardising the deal’s implementation.

Mugabe is reported to have refused to cede key ministries to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leaders.

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