December 22 2005 at 05:47PM
By Angus Shaw
Harare - Municipal water supplies in the Zimbabwean capital are unsafe
to drink, authorities said on Thursday, in the latest blow to amenities in
the long-suffering city.
Tests conducted on water samples collected in Harare found high levels
of harmful bacteria and sediments, according to a report by Harare municipal
engineer Michael Jaravaza.
Toxin-producing algae was also detected due to shortages of chlorine
and imported water treatment chemicals.
The samples failed to meet minimum World Health Organisation safety
standards for drinking water, the report said.
Zimbabwe's economic collapse has taken a toll on municipal services.
Harare suffers regular water and power cuts, garbage collection has
collapsed, and patients at public hospitals are asked to bring their own
The country's main food processing firms and brewery have lodged
formal complaints about the water quality, which they say threatens
Health authorities have reported a recent upsurge in dysentery and
The water shutdowns have blocked sanitation facilities, and sewers
have burst when the supply was restored. Residents in the city's poorest
districts have resorted to collecting water from streams and drains.
A massive power cut blacked out an industrial complex and a township
south of Harare on Sunday, shutting down commercial and domestic
refrigeration. Executives at one firm said they transferred perishable foods
to refrigerated trucks. Most of Chitungwiza township remained in the dark
Zimbabwe is caught in its worst economic crisis since independence in
1980, with spiralling inflation - now running at 502 percent - and acute
shortages of food, hard currency, fuel and other essential imports.
The agriculture-based economy crumbled after the often-violent seizure
of thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to blacks
that began in 2000. Four years of drought have compounded the crisis. -
Thu Dec 22, 2005 6:48 PM GMT
By Telford Vice
DURBAN (Reuters) - The Zimbabwe cricket team went on an indefinite strike on
Thursday in protest against the way the national governing body is running
A statement from the Zimbabwe Professional Cricketers' Association (ZPCA)
said no player would be available for national duty.
"In the light of the persistent and continued failure by both the chairman
and the managing director of Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) to address the legitimate
concerns of their players, effective immediately no player will train or
avail himself for national duty," the statement said.
The statement said the "continued tenure" of ZC chairman Peter Chingoka and
managing director Ozias Bvute were among the issues the ZPCA wanted
Former captain Tatenda Taibu, who quit Zimbabwean cricket last month, has
called for the removal of both men.
Players' representative Clive Field told Reuters from Harare the team were
unhappy with the pace of negotiations.
"Nothing has been happening for the last couple of weeks so they feel the
only thing they can do now is to say they are not playing until this thing
Bvute told Reuters the ZC's office had been closed since Dec 16 and would
not reopen until the first week in January.
"I don't know who they are communicating with," he said.
This month a crisis meeting of stakeholders resolved to ask the government
to order an audit into ZC's affairs and to appoint an interim committee to
run the organisation.
Chingoka and Bvute were arrested under the Exchange Control Act on December
5. and held for two nights for questioning but were then released without
The ZPCA also said the players in Zimbabwe's series against New Zealand and
India in August and September had still to be paid.
"In the face of burgeoning costs and at a time when most employees in
Zimbabwe are receiving their annual bonuses the players have been overlooked
by ZC and are still waiting for match fees, more than two months late," the
Zimbabwe's next senior international engagement is in the West Indies in
April and May where they are scheduled to play two tests and five one-day
But they are due to field teams in the Afro-Asian A-team tournament in
Bangladesh in January and in South Africa's under-23 domestic competitions
"Despite a number of recent attempts by the ZPCA and others to find a way
forward with ZC regarding the various issues outstanding in the negotiations
between ZPCA and ZC, there has been no progress," the statement said.
Thursday's statement was the latest in a long-standing row between the
players and administrators which gained international attention when Andy
Flower and Henry Olonga wore black armbands in Zimbabwe's opening match of
the 2003 World Cup against Namibia.
The key issue is the players contention that Chingoka, Bvute and other
administrators are harming Zimbabwean cricket through chronic mismanagement.
The dispute reached crisis point on November 24 when Taibu resigned the
national captaincy and severed all ties with the game.
Taibu said his mind had been made up largely by his dissatisfaction with the
The internal ructions have been reflected in Zimbabwe's performance on the
field where they have lost seven of their last 10 tests by an innings.
Fri 23 December 2005
CHINHOYI - The Zimbabwe government on Monday handed over incomplete
houses to homeless families in the farming town of Chinhoyi before
ironically accusing the United Nations (UN) the following day of wanting to
build sub-standard houses for hundreds of other shelter-less Zimbabweans.
The more than 100 Chinhoyi families were left without homes or means
of livelihood after the government destroyed their shantytown homes and
informal business kiosks in a controversial urban clean-up campaign that the
UN said left at least 700 000 Zimbabweans on the streets without income or
President Robert Mugabe's government, bowing to unusually harsh and
severe criticism from the UN and from Western governments, local and
international human rights groups, promised in July to build better houses
for people displaced by the urban renewal exercise.
But the Executive Mayor of Chinhoyi, lying 120km north-west of Harare,
Ray Kapesa told some of the displaced families during a ceremony to hand
over the incomplete houses to them that they would have to finish building
the houses on their own because the government was broke.
"As you all know that this programme had no resources, we are
appealing to you to accept these houses as they are. Those who can afford to
finish off the houses should please do so as a matter of urgency," said
The admission by Kapesa, a senior member of Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF
party, that the government did not have money to build houses for people
whose homes it demolished is the first time a senior official of either the
government or ZANU PF has publicly conceded that the government does not
have money to build homes for all the displaced families.
Economic analysts had warned that the Harare government was taking up
more than it could handle by launching the home building programme codenamed
"Operation Garikayi" when it was already hard pressed for cash to buy
critically needed fuel, food, electricity and several other basic survival
commodities in short supply in the country.
The UN, which called Mugabe's urban renewal campaign a violation of
human rights and internal law in a harshly worded report last August, has
offered to mobilise food aid and to provide temporary accommodation for
victims of the clean-up exercise.
But the Harare government has accepted the food only and rejected the
tents the UN was offering as temporary shelter, with Mugabe telling the
world body's envoy, Jan Egeland, that "Zimbabweans were not tent people".
And on Tuesday this week, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo
publicly castigated the UN - which has now agreed to help build temporary
brick and asbestos houses for displaced Zimbabweans - of designing a
sub-standard house model because the world body looks down upon Africans.
Chombo, who called the semi-permanent house model an insult to
Africans, vowed that the Harare government would not accept it, saying the
UN should instead build permanent houses of at least two rooms each.
But UNDP resident representative in Zimbabwe and the world body's
humanitarian co-ordinator in the southern African nation, Agostinho
Aquarius, dismissed Chombo's claims as insincere. Addressing journalists in
Harare a day after Chombo's public outbursts, the UN co-ordinator said the
house model that the Local Government Minister was crying foul about was in
fact designed by UN and Zimbabwean technicians.
The UN has had an uneasy relationship with Harare, with Mugabe
accusing the world body of allowing itself to be used by powerful Western
nations out to punish his government for seizing land from whites and giving
it over to landless blacks.
The world body denies Western influence and says its criticism against
Mugabe's policies are out of legitimate concern for ordinary Zimbabweans
without food, jobs and shelter after five years of acute economic
recession. - ZimOnilne
December 22, 2005, 13:45
By Thrishni Subramoney
Traffic is still blocked at the Beitbridge border between South Africa and
Zimbabwe, despite reports that more officials have been put on duty. The
queue stretches for kilometres.
Michelle Mpofu, a student on her way to Zimbabwe for the holidays, says she
has been waiting in the queue since the early hours of the morning, and she
is still not within sight of the border post. Her description of the scene
is a grim one, lines of vehicles surrounded by rubbish inching forward far
too slowly for comfort.
"The queue just goes on and on," said a tired Mpofu, "Everyone is hot and
tired and dirty." However, she considers herself lucky. "One of my friends
took days to get through last week. They spent a night in the car and
eventually had to book into a hotel because they were travelling with a
Yesterday Lorraine Makola, the chairperson of the Border Control
Co-ordinating Committee, formed to deal with the crisis, said members of the
South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have been deployed to assist
police and border officers to keep order. In addition, 39 more traffic
officers have been deployed and Makola said they were looking at "queue
Authorities have largely dismissed reports of a go-slow by border officials,
saying that this was part of a festive season rush. However, Mpofu says she
has made the trip on number of occasions and has never experienced a delay
such as this. "I don't know who is to blame or what's going on at the
border, I just think it's unfair," she said, "I feel especially sorry for
the small children who are part of the queue."
Officials at the border itself refused to comment on the situation,
directing enquiries to officials in Pretoria, who could not be reached for
www.chinaview.cn 2005-12-23 02:15:13
HARARE, Dec. 22 (Xinhuanet) -- The development of Zimbabwe's
economy in 2006 will hinge on the performance of the current rainy season
and the normalization of international relations to re-attract the world's
leading multilateral lending institutions such as the International Monetary
The Zimbabwean government has predicted a steady agricultural led
economic growth rate of between two and three percent in 2006.
Agriculture is projected to register a 14.8 percent positive
growth on the back of a normal rainy season, increased hectares under
irrigation and the timely provision of critical inputs as well as the
introduction of targeted production program to promote food security.
However, economic analysts said whether these targets would be
achieved rests squarely on the performance of the rainy season, which has so
far exhibited signs of a return to normalcy after a five-year lull.
The analysts said increased agricultural output would release
pressure on prices but this would largely be felt in the second half of the
year when crop sales begin, that is if the rains persist. Even the exchange
rate hinges on the performance of agriculture, manufacturing and the
performance of exports.
But not much is expected to happen because the government has cut
down on taxation and increased its expenditure.
This will mean that inflation will continue shooting up and will
have negative implications on interest rates and money supply growth.
Analysts predicted a 600 percent inflation figure for December
2005 that will decelerate to 400 percent by the second half of the year
depending on agricultural output and ending the year between 100 and 200
The governor of the central bank of Angola Amadeu Mauricio last
month said Zimbabwe should commit to fighting inflation because out of all
negative economic variables that hit economies, inflation remains the most
dangerous and if not properly managed could wreck promising economies.
Zimbabwe's Finance Minister, Herbert Murerwa on December 1
presented a 128 trillion Zimbabwean dollars (1 US dollar = 60, 000
Zimbabwean dollars) budget proposal for 2006 that largely reflects the
government's resolve to fight inflation through expenditure restraint.
Murerwa said the government intended to use 128 trillion
Zimbabwean dollars on recurrent and capital expenditure against fiscal
revenue of 110 trillion Zimbabwean dollars to create a budget deficit of
13.9 trillion Zimbabwean dollars or 4.6 percent of the country's Gross
The minister said the budget deficit of 4.6 percent of GDP was
expected to be consistent with the end of 2006 inflation target of 80
percent and the 2-3.5 percent-targeted real GDP growth rate for the year.
Agricultural performance would dictate economic growth, but the
fluctuations in international oil prices were also a major factor, which
authorities had little to do in terms of control.
The availability of fuel would determine whether the prices would
go up or down and this would also have far reaching effects on whether the
prices of export crops would fetch viable prices on the international
Major export crops include tobacco, flowers, fruits and others
have experienced a decline in output due to mainly persistent droughts.
This has made the need for an irrigated crop imperative but
despite constant allocation of funds for the rehabilitation of irrigation
systems by the government, the 2006 budget did not give the program the
prominence that it deserves. Enditem
By Tererai Karimakwenda
22 December 2005
The United Nations news agency IRIN reports that the UN Resident
Coordinator in Zimbabwe Agostinho Zacarias is surprised at the government's
criticism of a model house built for those left homeless by Operation
Murambatsvina. Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo was quoted in the
state paper the Herald saying the UN was told to "follow set guidelines but
they went ahead and built this sub-standard building". But Zacarias told
reporters in Harare on Wednesday that he was "somewhat puzzled" by Chombo's
response. He said the model was a joint effort by the Zimbabwean government
and the UN.
More than 700,000 people were left homeless or without a livelihood
after the government destroyed their homes and market stalls. Ironically,
the same government is now trying to dictate UN policy and procedure,
insisting on choosing the beneficiaries as well as deciding what type of
shelter should be built. Humanitarian organisations and activists in the
country have said up to now only police, army and state agents have
benefited from the few structures built by the government, and they fear
only ruling party supporters will be selected to occupy the new UN shelters
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tererai Karimakwenda
22 December, 2005
According to the report by the Harare Municipality, water in the
capital fails to meet minimum safety specifications set by the World Health
Organisation (WHO) and Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ). The report
says the water delivered to Harare is sub-standard with very low
concentrations of chlorine. It was found to contain high levels of bacteria
and is acidic. Sedimentary impurities were also found. Several companies
that rely on water for production have filed complaints with the city and
are reported to have threatened to stop production unless the conditions
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has been blamed by The
Municipality for poor treatment of the water. The Herald said the water
authority has requested Harare to provide the necessary expertise and
experience to ensure standards are met. The paper also said Zinwa chairman
Willie Muringani said he was not aware of the report by the Harare City
Council. He said Zinwa and Harare were equal partners in the water issue and
should, therefore, work together.
Dairibord Zimbabwe, Lyons, Delta Breweries and Olivine all allegedly
filed formal complaints with the Municipality. Some of these companies are
reported to have threatened to stop production if the water quality did not
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tererai Karimakwenda
22 December 2005
Zimbabwe's capital city is reported to be smelling like a dump and
infested with flies as we approach the holidays and the New Year. A
spokesman for The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) told us
refuse in many areas has not been collected since the beginning of 2005.
Precious Shumba, the information officer for CHRA, told us Thursday that
reports have been made to the illegal commission running Harare and
concerned citizens have also appealed for help, but to no avail. The
commission headed by former opposition councillor Sekesai Makwavarara has
not responded to any of the stakeholders. CHRA is calling for the removal of
her administration and for new elections in the capital.
As for the situation on the ground, Shumba said areas like Mabvuku,
Mufakose, Glen Norah and Mbare have huge piles of garbage in public places
and on the streets. Flies are everywhere and there have been recent
outbreaks of dysentery. Many displaced families are using the bush and other
open spaces as toilets, and the regular water cuts make it almost impossible
to always wash the hands or to drink safe water.
CHRA had applied to the High Court to have the illegal commission
which was appointed by local government minister Ignatius Chombo removed,
but the case was thrown out on the grounds that it was not urgent. They have
now resorted to raising a petition expressing their disappointment because
they believe the judiciary is compromised. But in the meantime, CHRA is
intensifying the rates boycott campaign they started mid-November. Shumba
said it was going really well in low density areas like Dandaro, but
residents there claim they have been threatened with expulsion since many of
them are originally from Europe.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tererai Karimakwenda
22 December 2005
An agriculture official and farming expert has called the continuing
farm evictions ethnic cleansing and described the situation on the farms as
a state of anarchy. Frank Gifford of The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) told
us Thursday that senior officials from the army, police and top civil
servants are grabbing farms on a daily basis. He said the evictions have
intensified as we approach the holidays and it seems senior authorities have
been given free reign to choose the farms they want. It does not matter
whether the property is bringing in millions in foreign currency or whether
it belongs to a simple market gardener.
On Wednesday, The Zimonline reported that Zimbabwe Police Commissioner
Augustine Chihuri has ordered a white farmer to close down his agro-export
business because the police want to use the farmland for low cost houses for
its officers. With the country reeling from food shortages and relying on
United Nations handouts, it is shocking that the government is not only
allowing the seizure of productive farms, but engaging in this
self-destructive exercise themselves. This time the property is Gletwin
farm, near Glen Lorne suburb north of Harare, which is trading as Ross and
Sons and employs hundreds of permanent and seasonal workers. They will join
over 70% of the population in the country who are unemployed.
The Agricultural and Rural development Authority (ARDA) has taken over
many farms in the last couple of years and much of it is in the hands of
army officials. Gifford said production on these farms has gone down and
some employees say they have not been paid for months. With their morale at
a low and without much in the way of agricultural inputs, these workers'
output is minimal. Yet the government is alleged to be making plans to put
even more farms in the army's control.
Publicly government officials, including Robert Mugabe himself, have
said the farm evictions must stop and agriculture must be promoted and
protected, but so far their words have not been followed up with any action.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who also runs land redistribution,
is reported to have defended the seizure of Gletwin farm vehemently. He
allegedly said "You would have to be insane to be worried that we are taking
over a farm from a white man to build accommodation for our law enforcers."
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
From The Star (SA), 22 December
Broadcasting chief charged with operating without licence
By Basildon Peta
Zimbabwean police are holding an arrested broadcasting executive hostage
until five of his colleagues at a private radio station surrender. The
executive director of Voice of the People (VOP), John Masuku, was due to
appear in court yesterday after his arrest on Monday on charges that he
operated his radio station without a government licence, his lawyer Rangu
Nyamurundira said. But the police changed their tune and were still holding
Masuku last night, demanding that his fellow directors at VOP surrender to
them, the lawyer said. Nyamurundira condemned the police action as illegal.
Zimbabwean police are allowed to detain people for a maximum of 48 hours
before charging them in a court - the exception being economic crimes, which
allow for police detention of up to a month. By last night, none of the five
VOP directors had surrendered. Nyamurundira said the police had seized
computers and documents after raiding the offices of the VOP in Harare last
week. Masuku's three other junior staffers were arrested but were released
without charge after the attorney-general's office ruled that they could not
be charged because they were not owners of VOP.
Under Zimbabwe's Broadcasting Services Act, it is illegal for Zimbabweans to
own signal- transmitting equipment or to broadcast from the country without
first seeking permission from the state-run Broadcasting Authority of
Zimbabwe. VOP compiles reports from within Zimbabwe and broadcasts its
signals via a Radio Netherlands transmitter off Madagascar. Since VOP does
not broadcast from a transmitter rooted in Zimbabwe, it argues that it does
not need a government licence to operate. Masuku's arrest comes in the wake
of a threat by Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya to crack down on media
organisations and journalists accused of conniving with foreign powers
against Zimbabwe. Just like the banned Daily News, whose printing press was
bombed and destroyed in 2001, the offices of VOP were bombed in 2001, and
the radio station lost its equipment. The perpetrators of both bombings are
still at large and the police never opened a docket to investigate. Masuku's
arrest comes in the wake of a renewed onslaught on the media by the
Zimbabwean government, which last week seized and then later released
publisher Trevor Ncube's passport.
From SW Radio Africa, 20 December
By Violet Gonda
A leading political commentator and one of the advisors for the MDC,
Professor Brian Raftopoulos said the internal divisions are too deep to
reconcile. He described the infighting in the country's main opposition
party as a major tragedy for them as a party and for the people of Zimbabwe
as a whole. The crisis-ridden opposition party is in the process of
restructuring the party's 12 provinces ahead of a National Congress
scheduled for February. The restructuring was necessitated by a split in the
party leadership over the recent senate elections and other procedural
issues. It has now become a game of tug of war between the two camps in the
troubled MDC as the pro-senate side is reportedly preparing to hold its own
congress, a sign that neither side is recognising what the other is doing.
The dispute has had a devastating effect on the MDC's support base.
Professor Raftopoulos , who is one of the people who has been trying to
bring the disputing camps together, said sadly as far as he knows, these
efforts have been stopped. He said the divisions are now very deep,
especially as both sides are heading for separate congresses.
Raftopoulos said "I would like to reiterate that this is to the detriment of
the MDC and for the people of Zimbabwe who have put so much faith in this
party." Despite the fact that the fighting is between people who have all
devoted their lives to opposing the Mugabe regime, the leadership continues
to make serious allegations against each other. This week party President
Morgan Tsvangirai alleged that Zanu PF is plotting to assassinate him and
conspiring with an MDC pro-senate faction. This was followed by counter
accusations from "suspended officials" Trudy Stevenson and Paul Temba Nyathi
saying the suspensions are not valid and alleged that their president is
engaging in diversionary tactics to hide his failures as head of the
opposition party. Professor Raftopoulos said the accusations of an
assassination plot is a symptom of the distrust and bitterness that has
grown out of this conflict. He believes both sides of the MDC are not going
to come out of this of this well.
Asked whether these events signal the end of the party as a powerful force
in Zimbabwe politics, Raftopoulos said the MDC is going to be grossly
weakened. "I have heard the argument that this (infighting) may be a good
thing because it would lead to a strengthened MDC; I don't believe that
personally. I think it is going to weaken the MDC nationally. And issues
that should have been addressed; issues around accountability, the violence
within the party, lack of co-ordination, lack of leadership - these issues
are not going to be addressed. And I am afraid they are just going to be
re-produced in any new formation that comes about". The MDC advisor said the
decision to go into the senate was a mistake which has resulted in the
pro-senate camp losing a lot of political capital. "It's a cul de sac.
However, the issues they raised with Mr Tsvangirai about accountability,
about his so-called kitchen cabinet, about the violence within the party;
these were genuine issues raised by the pro-senate faction and which were
not seriously addressed by Mr Tsvangirai." The infighting has left some
asking if the MDC is capable of mobilising mass protest s. Raftopoulos said
at the moment it looks very grim, and it looks like there is no real
strategy around mobilisation. The infighting has drained the party and cost
a lot in terms of capacity to mobilise. But for the foreseeable future I don't
see any drastic actions being taken."
By Lance Guma
22 December 2005
With Christmas a few days away, Newsreel canvassed the opinions of
prominent Zimbabweans on how they normally spend their Christmas.
Businessman Mutumwa Mawere now based in South Africa says he will start of
with a church service in the morning before spending the day with his
family. He acknowledged that the economic downturn had impacted negatively
on people's ability to celebrate Christmas the way they would have wanted
to. All the same, it was important to treasure having your family close by
on such a day.
Former student leader and human rights lawyer, Daniel Molokela says he
will take his family for a picnic in the park soon after a morning service
at the local Rhema church in South Africa. He says they will make sure they
buy the traditional African chicken with the strong and tasty meat rather
the conventional half grown broilers dominating most shops. The main problem
for people in the diaspora he said was space. Given the kind of space they
enjoyed in Zimbabwe it would make for a better Christmas since people can
gather together more easily.
It is mainly people in Zimbabwe who have to bear the brunt of Zanu PF's
mismanagement. Recent price increases for bread, meat and mealie meal has
meant added misery for most poor families. With inflation floating between
500 and 600 percent, Father Christmas in Zimbabwe has his work cut out for
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
The Herald (Harare)
December 22, 2005
Posted to the web December 22, 2005
THE Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, says the
$5,2 trillion allocated to his ministry in the 2006 National Budget is not
sufficient to address the problems and challenges facing the health sector.
In an interview last week, Dr Parirenyatwa said he had plans for a complete
overhaul of things in the health sector in the coming year but this would
not be possible on what the ministry had been allocated.
The health sector, for the first time, got priority over other key
ministries like defence claiming at least 12 percent of the total
However, this is still not adequate considering the numerous challenges the
health sector is facing.
In countries like Botswana, for instance, health gets at least 25 percent of
the total expenditure.
"First of all, I am sure we are all agreed that there is need to look into
the human resources issue. We need to boost our human resources base and
this can only be done by attracting qualified and competent staff to our
"We also have to reward those who have remained with us by paying them well.
Expectations are high right now that the Health Services Board will make
some changes in remuneration but all this needs funds," Dr Parirenyatwa
Drugs and medicines, transport, infrastructure and equipment as well as HIV
and Aids were also areas that needed a thorough look into.
"All these are areas of priority and they need to have some funds injected
into them in order for them to remain viable.
"With HIV and Aids, while I am pleased that there has been some progress,
more still needs to be done, especially with regards to care and treatment"
While the country's HIV infection rate has dropped to about 20 percent, care
and treatment plans have not been smooth.
The country has already failed to meet its target of putting at least 100
000 people on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) by the end of this year.
Only around 20 000 people are on treatment and already some of these are
struggling to remain on treatment because of the prohibitive costs of the
Dr Parirenyatwa said the Government was now looking at March next year as
the time for monitoring the country's ART programme.
In his budget speech, Finance Minister Dr Herbert Murerwa acknowledged that
the health sector was faced with a host of challenges with most of the
equipment in hospitals not working.
The Herald (Harare)
December 22, 2005
Posted to the web December 22, 2005
PEOPLE working with birds must stay on the alert for avian influenza or bird
flu in Zimbabwe.
The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and the Ministries of Agriculture
and of Environment and Tourism yesterday called on the public and people
working with birds and poultry to be wary and alert to the possibility of
the occurrence of bird flu.
This is despite the fact that there was no evidence of human to human spread
in any documented 2 cases.
Migratory birds, especially waterfowls, are the natural reservoirs of avian
influenza so the spread of avian flu depends on the movement of the
migratory birds from the affected countries in the north to the south.
As a precaution to prevent the possible outbreaks and spread of bird flu in
the country, people have been urged to keep poultry in bird proof
enclosures, like fowl runs, cages or netted areas as well as not to
introduce birds of unknown origin into existing fowl units.
Unusual deaths of poultry or wild birds -- aid the authorities -- should be
reported to the nearest veterinary office, police or local health workers
while there was need to submit a sample of the dead bird for post mortem at
the nearest veterinary authorities for screening against possible bird flu.
Bird flu is spread from bird to bird through direct contact with nasal and
respiratory discharges from infected birds, droppings of infected birds or
contaminated equipment or infected humans.
"People need to practice good hygiene like washing their hands and clothes
after handling birds and they should dispose of dead birds and dropping by
burning and not burying.
"Sudden deaths of birds and chicken, lack of energy and appetite, swelling
of the head, eyelids, combs, wattle and legs, purple discolouration of the
wattles and combs, cough and sneezing and diarrhoea were some of the things
to look out for when identifying bird flu," the statement read.
In humans it could be identified by flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever,
sore throat and muscle pains, eye infections, pneumonia and acute
respiratory distress and other complications.
Human beings could get infected with bird flu through direct contact with
the infected chicken or birds, contact with surfaces and objects
contaminated by bird droppings and inhalation of droplets of nasal and
respiratory discharges of infected birds.
Bird flu has been reported in many parts of Asian countries such as
Indonesia, China and Cambodia and some European countries like Russia,
Romania, Turkey and Greece.
While the Government had earlier on said there was no need for locals to
panic about the flu, they said a state of high alertness and preparedness
was called for.
Zimbabwe recently temporarily suspended ostrich and poultry exports
following the detection of Avian Flu, type H5 virus on ostriches at two
farms in Nyamandlovu and Bubi Districts.
Samples sent to South Africa have confirmed that the infection on the two
ostrich properties was of the H5N2 type, and was therefore unrelated to the
disease outbreaks in Europe and South East Asia. The recent outbreaks in
South East Asia and Europe have all been caused by H5N1 virus type.
In May this year Government had to discourage locals from travelling to
Angola after the Marburg Virus claimed more than 220 people.
An emergency committee, similar to the one put in place when the Severe
Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) broke out in Asia was put in place.