Zim parties trade blame for deadly cholera outbreak
Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC party on Friday called off plans to hold a mock inauguration to name its leader Nelson Chamisa as the country’s president after public gatherings were banned due to a cholera outbreak.
The MDC had planned the event to highlight its claims that the July 30 election was rigged and that Chamisa was the rightful president, rather than President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ruling Zanu-PF.
The World Health Organisation and the Red Cross said they were ramping up their emergency responses to Zimbabwe’s deadliest cholera outbreak in a decade, as politicians traded blame over contaminated water and collapsing infrastructure.
The WHO said it was providing kits that contain oral rehydration solution, intravenous fluids and antibiotics as the outbreak expanded quickly in Harare.
The death toll from the disease rose to 26, testing the capacity of a new government to handle a major crisis just weeks after violent demonstrations that followed the first election since Robert Mugabe was toppled in a coup.
The opposition controls the city government in the capital, and new health minister Obadiah Moyo blamed it for the outbreak.
“This whole problem has arisen as a result of blocked sewers and these were reported and were never repaired for at least two months,” he said.
The opposition says the central government should have provided more money.
The latest cholera outbreak hit the city of 1.5-million people after burst sewers in the Budiriro and Glenview suburbs contaminated water in boreholes used by residents.
The International Red Cross in Zimbabwe said it had deployed more than 1,000 volunteers to contain the outbreak.
The MDC, meanwhile, accused the government of using the cholera outbreak to stop the mock inauguration of Chamisa at the party’s 19th anniversary celebrations.
Authorities have banned public gatherings in Harare as a health measure.
“The Movement for Democratic Change has postponed its 19th anniversary celebrations,” party spokesman Jacob Mafume said.
“It is clear that the government is abusing the cholera epidemic for political purposes and puts into serious doubt that the ban of our commemoration event was out of genuine concern.”
The outbreak prompted the health ministry to declare an emergency in Harare after at least 3,000 cases were reported.
The disease has since spread to other towns as well as rural areas across the country.
Zimbabwe’s largest university postponed its graduation ceremony on Friday.