In Zimbabwe Five Die As Cholera Returns
Harare, Zimbabwe, 24 November 2009
The latest news from here in Zimbabwe is rather disappointing.
That ancient disease, cholera, has now reared its head again after being dismissed as "finished" by both Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
Health and Child Welfare Minister, Henry Madzorere (MDC-T) announced at a press conference yesterday that 143 suspected cases of cholera have been recorded since September this year in Harare.
Harare City Council is still failing to supply adequate water to the city's suburbs, especially the high-density ones and the townships. As I have mentioned before, the boreholes that have been dug by UNICEF and other aid agencies in Harare's urban areas are failing to cope with demand, with families being limited to specific litres a day that they draw.
This has seen most of them resort to streams and wells that they dig in their own backyards. And this is where cholera comes in, because, apart from the lack of water, the Harare City Council has done nothing at all to repair the crumbling sewage system in Harare, leading to sewage flowing in the streets of residential areas. As a result, some of this sewage finds its way into the wells and the streams from which residents now get some of their water.
Since September this year, five people have died from the resurgent disease nationally. The fatality rate, according to the Minister, stands at 4.3%, which officially makes the current wave of cholera a pandemic.
This is because, even by the Minister's own admission, world standards say that a "contained" outbreak has fatalities of less than 1%.
The MDC-T controlled Harare City Council is playing its usual blame game and failing to take responsibility for the blood of the dead people, who have died as a direct result of the negligence of the Council.
Power supplies are being blamed, yet these have improved dramatically over the last month or so. Despite this, even areas that are close to the waterworks, like Warren Park, have gone for a year without water in their taps.
In Mabvuku and Tafara, teh situation is the same, with residents going even for a week without water.
But the biggest time bomb is at the Mbare flats in Harare. These flats were originally built by Ian Smith's government to house migrant workers (even those migrating to work from the rural areas of Zimbabwe.
They were built literally as hostels, where male workers could be housed in basic conditions because their bases were in their rural homes or elsewhere. The hostels are now called "flats" and sometimes you get three or four families (as many as 15 people in most cases), living in one room, with their spaces screened off with curtains and cloths.
The toilets at these "flats" have been closed for two weeks, because there has been no water there for that period. So, residents are relieving themselves in public spaces. The absence of water and the onset of rains here in Zimbabwe this month means that cholera is also guaranteed now to rear its head at the Mbare hostels.
Only three months ago, I was waring on this blog about the prospect of cholera, only to have MDC-T supporters and apologists (who are now the biggest defenders of Mugabe's ruinous policies as they fight for space at the national feeding trough) shout at me for being "negative.
There are some very serious questions to be asked here. First, how does Morgan Tsvangirai sleep at night?
He and his band of praise-singers keep telling us that he went into the Inclusive Government to alleviate the people's suffering. Simba Makoni has castigated him for focusing instead on making sure his cronies are given jobs instead of fighting over policies.
There is no better illustration of the point that this latest tragedy, announced by one of Tsvangirai's own ministers. Tsvangirai thinks it is more important to fight Mugabe over appointments and jobs for his boys and girls instead of fighting Mugabe to cut travel expenses for government (now standing at US$21 million) and channel the money towards resuscitating the crumbling sewage and water infrastructure in Zimbabwe.
What improvement in people's lives did he go into government for is he is willing to participate in the looting of national coffers and causing the deaths of Zimbabweans as a result.
we want real change. Now. This, Tsvangirai can not supply. Mugabe can not supply. MDC-T have failed, as much as Mugabe has failed.
We are lucky that we have been shown the true character of these so-called leaders now, in a short-lived government. They have demonstrated to us that they can not change our fortunes.
They must not be allowed to get their hands on the levers of power again when the next election comes.