Zim par­ties trade blame for deadly cholera out­break

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - World - Mac­Don­ald Dzirutwe

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.

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