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Zimbabwe says Britain "planted" cholera in "genocide" bid

Health News
Dec 12, 2008, 14:11 GMT

Harare - While Zimbabwe's government was backtracking on President Robert
Mugabe's denials about his country's cholera outbreak, one minister was
accusing Britain of 'planting' the cholera in Zimbabwe's soil to achieve

Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu also accused what he called
'gun-boat' Western media outlets of passing off photos of victims of
conflict in other parts of Africa as Zimbabwean cholera victims.

'They take photos of people dying in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo)
and Darfur (Sudan) and say these are cholera victims from Zimbabwe. CNN
please stop those pictures,' he appealed.

Ndlovu was addressing a government press conferences on the causes of the
devastating outbreak that has claimed 793 lives and infected over 16,000
people since August.

Although health experts blame the situation on the breakdown of water and
sewerage systems, Ndlovu had another theory.

'The current cholera and anthrax were planted (during the colonial era) in
various parts of Zimbabwe,' Ndlovu said. 'It is a genocidal attack on the
people of Zimbabwe by the British still trying to fight for the
recolonization of Zimbabwe,' he said.

'Cholera and anthrax stay in the soil and gestate over many years. Long
after the war, the undeclared biological warfare still rages on,' the
minister told journalists, several of whom laughed openly at his theory.

His remarks about anthrax come after a British charity sounded the alarm a
few days ago over a spate of anthrax infections in humans who had eaten meat
from infected cattle carcasses.

Ndlovu alleged that 'covert chemical war operatives' from Britain were
currently in Zimbabwe to spread cholera and anthrax with a view to paving
the way for a military invasion that would oust Mugabe and install the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in power.

President Robert Mugabe's regime has becoming jittery following calls by a
string of world leaders for him to step down, or, in the case of some
leaders, for him to be forced from office.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said earlier this week that the United
Nations Security Council would meet next week to discuss further action
against Mugabe's regime.

But according to Ndlovu, it was 'Gordon Brown (who) must be taken to the
United States Security Council, for being a threat to world peace and for
planting cholera and anthrax and for planning to invade our peaceful

His remarks came as George Charamba, Mugabe's spokesman, rowed back somewhat
on Mugabe's assertion Thursday that there was 'no cholera' in Zimbabwe.

The elderly leader was using 'sarcasm,' to highlight 'the absurdity' of what
he called Western plans to invade Zimbabwe over the cholera situation,
Charamba told the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

Declaring that UN agencies and state doctors 'had now arrested cholera,'
Mugabe said: So now that there is no cholera, there is no reason for war any
more. Let's tell them (Britain and the United States) that the cholera cause
doesn't exist any more if it was cause for war.'

Mugabe's statement during a speech on Thursday caused widespread
consternation as experts say that, particularly in Harare, the epicentre of
the disease, the epidemic has shown little sign of abating.

From close to 600 a few days ago, the number of deaths from the water-borne
disease shot up to 793, World Health Organization figures showed Friday. In
neighbouring South Africa 11 people, mostly Zimbabweans, have died of
cholera in the vicinity of a cramped border crossing.

Charamba expressed 'utter disgust and contempt' at the Western media's
'attempts to deliberately distort and misrepresent President Mugabe.'

Ndlovu went one further in accusing Western media outlets of 'Gestapo
journalism,' naming the BBC, CNN and al-Jazeera broadcasters.

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Zimbabwe's cholera crisis could last months: MSF

Fri Dec 12, 11:06 am ET

OHANNESBURG (AFP) - Zimbabwe's cholera crisis has taken an unprecedented
scale and could last for months, the Doctors Without Borders group said on

"The scale and the sheer numbers of infections especially in Harare is
unprecedented," said the organisation known by its French initials MSF.

"Harare has been the centre of the outbreak. MSF has treated more than 6,000
people in the densely populated capital," the group said in a statement.

"A cholera outbreak of this proportion usually continues for several
months," it said. "MSF expects to be caring for cholera patients in Zimbabwe
for some time to come."

Lack of access to clean water, burst and blocked sewers and uncollected
garbage overflowing in the streets has spread the water-borne disease across
the country.

"The fact that the outbreak has become so large is an indication that the
country's health system can't cope," said MSF.

Cholera is endemic in parts of rural Zimbabwe, but had been rare in the
cities, where most homes have piped water and flush toilets. Those basic
services have now broken down, and in some neighbourhoods sewage flows in
the streets.

On Friday, the World Health Organisation said the death toll had climbed to
792, with 16,700 cases reported.

One day earlier, President Robert Mugabe stunned the world by announcing
that the epidemic was over. His spokesman backtracked on the remarks after
the comments sparked international outrage.

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Robert Mugabe 'was joking about cholera' say his officials

December 12, 2008

Joanna Sugden
Robert Mugabe's government has attempted to row back on the President's
claim that the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe is over, saying he was joking.

Mr Mugabe said his country's doctors had halted the spread of cholera as the
death toll rose to 783 and the United Nations made plans to deal with 60,000
cases. His remarks prompted international condemnation.

But today George Charamba, Mr Mugabe's spokesman, told The Herald
newspaper - a government mouthpiece - that the octogenarian president was
using "sarcasm" when he made the statement.

Mr Mugabe told national television that "there is no cholera" and that the
West's basis for instigating regime change was undermined.

"I am happy to say our doctors have been assisted by others and they have
now arrested cholera," Mugabe said.
The World Health Organisation said today that Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic is
not under control and the death toll has risen to 792.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said Mr Mugabe's comments were
disturbing whichever way they were meant.

"Either Mr Mugabe is mischievous or genuinely out of touch with reality,"
said Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for the party.

"Instead of conveying a message of condolences, Mr Mugabe was busy

The cholera epidemic is only the latest grim symptom of Zimbabwe's
ruination. The economy has crumbled under the world's highest inflation
rate, last estimated in July at 231 million percent but now believed to be
much higher.

A new 500 million dollar note, worth 10 US dollars (7.50 euros), was
introduced today. The central bank cannot print money fast enough to keep
pace with prices that rise several times a day.

Currency shortages mean cash can only be withdrawn once a week from banks,
and then people are allowed to take only 500 million dollars, which is not
enough to see them through the day.

Hospitals have no drugs, no equipment and no staff left to treat the cholera
epidemic, which has spread as sewage and water lines have broken down,
contaminating the drinking supply.

A political stalemate between Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has
deepened the crisis after disputed elections earlier this year. The two
signed a power-sharing deal three months ago but have so far failed to agree
on how to form a unity government.

The United States called yesterday for South Africa to close its border with
Zimbabwe and cut off deliveries to the country.

"This is a landlocked country. And its formal and informal economies would
suffer. Within a week, it would bring the economy on its knees," a senior US
official said in Washington.

Meanwhile one South African church leader likened Mr Mugabe to Hitler.
Bishop Joe Seoka called for the 84-year-old to face charges for war crimes.

"Mugabe must be viewed as the 21st century Hitler because of the deaths and
suffering of Zimbabweans under his rule," he said.

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Zimbabwe now seeks support on cholera

Fri 12 Dec 2008, 18:47 GMT

By Nelson Banya

HARARE (Reuters) - A huge international aid effort is needed to help
Zimbabwe combat a cholera outbreak that has killed hundreds, the government
said on Friday, even though President Robert Mugabe has said it is now

"We need all the support we can get from peace-loving nations," information
minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told reporters.

The main opposition MDC also called for more help in fighting the epidemic.

Mugabe, under Western pressure to step down as Zimbabwe's economy and health
system collapse, had said on Thursday that "we have arrested cholera."

But the United Nations said the death toll, now nearly 800, was rising.

Ndlovu said the media had misrepresented Mugabe's comments, and presidential
spokesman George Charamba said they were taken out of context.

The outbreak follows months of violence and political turmoil in Zimbabwe.
Coupled with chronic food shortages, it has highlighted the economic
collapse of the southern African country.

The health system is ill-prepared to cope and there is not enough money to
pay doctors and nurses or buy medicine. The water system has collapsed,
forcing residents to drink from contaminated wells and streams.

Neighbouring South Africa is worried about conditions as thousands of
Zimbabweans cross the border each day.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday the death toll from
cholera had risen to 792, with 16,700 cases.

"I don't think that the cholera outbreak is under control as of now," WHO
spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said in Geneva.

"We are not commenting on President Mugabe's assertion because it's not the
place to discuss politics now.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for the past 28 years, has accused Western
countries of trying to use the cholera outbreak to force him out of power.

"Now that there is no cholera there is no case for war," he said in
Thursday's remarks.

Western leaders and some within Africa have called on the 84-year-old leader
to step down as the epidemic compounds Zimbabwe's political and economic

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Mugabe on Friday to agree
to a rapid deal on a new government.

Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai reached a power-sharing deal
brokered by regional mediator Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's former president,
in September. But they are deadlocked over how to implement it.

The MDC said while it was still committed to the talks, it would not be a
part of a unity government unless positions were allocated freely and a new
National Security Council was created.

Ban said he had pressed Mugabe in "very tense" private talks two weeks ago
in Doha to accept the September 15 agreement.

Asked whether he backed calls for Mugabe to leave office, Ban told a news
conference in Geneva: "He should really look for the future of his country
and his own people who have been suffering too much and too long from this
political turmoil now coupled with very serious humanitarian tragedies.

"I am really appealing and urging him again."

Britain on Friday questioned a U.S. proposal to seal Zimbabwe's borders to
hasten the collapse of Mugabe's government, saying the move could have far
worse consequences.

Mark Malloch Brown, senior British official for Africa, said if neighbouring
countries closed their borders, Zimbabweans would have no escape route and
the crises would worsen.

(Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Luke Baker in
London, editing by Angus MacSwan)

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"I am not a nurse anymore, I am a mortuary attendant"

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs -
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

Date: 12 Dec 2008

HARARE, 12 December 2008 (IRIN) - Peter Dzumbunu, (not his real name), 29,
is a male nurse working at a government referral hospital in Chitungwiza, a
dormitory town about 35km south of the Zimbabwean capital, Harare. The
collapse of health services has left him looking for other options, but not
in Zimbabwe.

"I have been working as a nurse for the past seven years, and with each
passing year I become more distraught by the state of our health delivery
system. This year [2008] marks the height of the degeneration of public
hospitals and clinics.

"For the first time in the history of this country, government hospitals
virtually closed down as doctors and nurses went on strike for the umpteenth
time, pressing for better working conditions.

"Yes, we have been striking frequently, but at no time did we hear of
hospitals sending patients - some of them in critical condition - home to
die on their own.

"What makes the closure of the hospitals even more pathetic is the fact that
it coincided with a widespread outbreak of cholera. As a nurse, I was
trained to be compassionate to patients.

"Honestly speaking, I now feel like a mortuary attendant because people die
around me every day, even though in some of the cases, the deaths could have
been avoided. The hospital has become a place where people come to prepare
for death, rather than being saved.

"Hospitals are admitting patients, even with the full knowledge that there
are no drugs, equipment or food with which to help the sick. What pains in
this case is that the patients are left with huge medical bills to settle,
despite the fact that they are hardly receiving any help.

"Worse still, patients' relatives find it difficult to settle the bills
because they cannot access enough money from their banks, due to unrealistic
withdrawal limits.

"Imagine - it is now student nurses and doctors who are being deployed to
the hospitals to deal with a few cases, mostly involving cholera, following
the withdrawal of services by those that are qualified.

"The students are supposed to be learning their professions, but they are
now being used like people who know the trade. What are they learning when
there is no-one to lead them? What kind of help are they giving to the
patients that have remained in hospital?

"I feel pity for the sick, because at times there are no detergents to wash
their blankets with; this exposes them to lice and communicable diseases.

"Right now, there is hardly any protective clothing for nurses and doctors,
meaning that those that attend to the sick, particularly the cholera
patients, are at a high risk of being infected themselves.

"I have been battling to get a visa to go to the UK, where most of my former
workmates have now settled. I will keep on trying but if I fail completely,
I am thinking of going to either Botswana or South Africa to take up any
kind of job that will pay me better than this profession.

"I don't mind even becoming a farm worker, as long as I earn foreign
currency. As it stands now, I can hardly make ends meet. My salary is worth
only a week's transport expenses. I have a family to look after, and my wife
has been forced to sell vegetables to supplement my income."

This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or
its agencies.

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Cholera outbreak may top 60,000

HARARE, Zimbabwe, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- A cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe could
result in more than 60,000 cases because of an inadequate health system, the
Zimbabwe Health Cluster says.
The health group estimated with the Zimbabwean health system overwhelmed
during the ongoing outbreak, the 16,141 suspected cholera cases could
increase dramatically. Zimbabwe has a population of 12 million, the World
Health Organization said Friday.

WHO Representative to Zimbabwe, Dr. Custodia Mandhlate, said the rising
number of cholera cases in the African country could be contained through
coordination in the medical community.

"This outbreak can be contained, but it will depend on many factors, in
particular a coordinated approach between all health providers to make sure
we are providing the right interventions where they are needed most,"
Mandhlate said. "Such interventions include prevention, quick case detection
and control, and improved treatment."

The organization said possible roadblocks to containment efforts include the
struggling Zimbabwean health system, a lack of safe drinking water and poor
hygiene among the country's residents.

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Mugabe in denial mode over cholera

The MDC is deeply worried by statements by the President-designate, Mr
Robert Mugabe that the cholera epidemic, which is spreading like a veldfire
across the country, is now under control.

Addressing mourners at the burial of the late Zanu PF national commissar,
Elliot Manyika, Mugabe said the cholera crisis was over. The Zanu PF
caretaker government is in a denial mode. The MDC believes that it is such
careless and reckless statements that have not helped the situation.

Over 800 people have succumbed to cholera in the last month. At a time
Mugabe is saying the epidemic is firmly under control, the South African
government has declared cholera a disaster in its northern provinces.

While the World Health Organisation and other international agencies have
helped by supplying intravenous fluids and drugs, the epidemic has not
abated. The underlying cause of cholera is the lack of running water in
people's homes and the collapsed sewer system across all areas of the
country. As long as these fundamentals are not addressed, it would be
disingenuous for anyone, let alone a leader, to say the situation is under

The MDC, and indeed the people of Zimbabwe, know that the epidemic is still
with us and is spreading fast across all major cities and towns. We have
visited homes of cholera victims in Harare and we have heard harrowing tales
from affected Zimbabweans in Musina in South Africa. Only those who have not
given themselves time to assess the situation on the ground will continue to
bury their heads in the sand.

We cannot afford to be in a denial mode as a nation. No amount of "tough
talking" will help our situation when we need all the help we can get to
avert a serious health crisis punctuated by shortage of drugs and a
frustrated and shrinking medical staff.

We should be honest with ourselves and with the world. The truth is that
cholera remains a major disaster in Zimbabwe.

Dr Henry Madzorera
MDC Secretary for Health

Via Press Release

This entry was written by Sokwanele on Friday, December 12th, 2008 at 12:19

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Sealing Zimbabwe borders will make matters worse: UK

Fri 12 Dec 2008, 14:44 GMT

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain on Friday questioned the wisdom of a U.S.
proposal to seal Zimbabwe's borders in order to hasten the collapse of
Robert Mugabe's government, saying such a move could have far worse

Mark Malloch Brown, Britain's secretary of state for Africa, said
neighbouring countries shutting their borders would deny Zimbabweans an
escape route and exacerbate the health and food crises already afflicting a
desperate population.

"Any effort to close off Zimbabwe to the delivery of fuel would undermine
the health efforts and the food distribution efforts," Malloch Brown told
reporters in London after returning from South Africa, where he discussed
Zimbabwe's situation.

"That border at the moment is a vital escape route."

With up to half Zimbabwe's estimated 10 million people dependent on food
aid -- which has to be distributed by trucks -- and hospitals short on
equipment and supplies as they try to deal with a cholera epidemic,
widespread HIV/Aids infections and the threat of malaria, shutting borders
would worsen matters.

"It's not necessarily wrong," he said of the U.S. proposal. "But people want
to make sure that any effort like that is hitting the leadership and not
just making matters worse for poorer people."

A senior U.S. official said on Thursday that if neighbouring countries
sealed their borders, and prevented the flow of remittances from Zimbabwean
exiles, it would bring the country to its knees "in a week".

"There is a continued outcry from African nations that this is an African
problem and it needs an African solution," said the official, who spoke on
condition of anonymity.

"It takes something as simple as closing the borders. Zimbabwe is a
land-locked country. The closure of the border, literally in a week would
bring this country to its knees.

"There is still a formal economy in Zimbabwe -- $2 billion still flows into
this country through various means, and even a lot in the informal economy.
A lot of that money flows across the borders, illegally or legally, with
South Africa."

South Africa and other members of the Southern African Development
Community, several of which border Zimbabwe, have been trying to put
pressure on Mugabe, urging him to share power and ease the suffering.

But none of the measures taken so far -- including withholding aid and
financial guarantees -- have done anything to shake Mugabe's grip on power
after 28 years.

A senior Western diplomat familiar with the situation in Zimbabwe said on
Friday that sealing the borders would only provoke a more rapid exodus of
people and higher mortality without loosening the government's hold on

"You would damage people and it would probably not damage the regime," he
said. "If you're going to make it work, you've got to get all the neighbours
to agree and there's not sufficient buy-in to make that happen."

Even if the economy completely collapsed, something the diplomat said could
happen in the next three months, Mugabe and his close aides would still be
able to survive on income from gold and diamond mines, as well as keeping
"somewhere between 8 and 10,000 men" in military uniform close at hand.

In terms of suggestions, he said, sealing the borders is "neither a
theoretical nor a practical proposition".

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UNICEF appeals for US$17.5 million for emergency response in Zimbabwe
HARARE, 12 December 2009 – UNICEF has appealed for US$17.5 million immediate funding to boost its 120-day emergency response as Zimbabwe battles with a raging cholera outbreak and the effects of collapsing social services.

The funds raised under this appeal will enable the UN children’s fund to scale up its cholera response, provide incentives for teachers to return to work, procure essential medicines for hospitals and importantly, expand its role in the provision of vital supplies and logistics functions necessary to get the social services back on track.

“The situation in Zimbabwe is dire and our response has to match the severity,” said UNICEF Acting Representative Roeland Monasch, “Assistance needs to be taken to scale and it has to happen urgently. For this to happen we need resources. The deepening crisis in Zimbabwe comes amidst growing food insecurity, the HIV/AIDS epidemic and poses the worst threat to child survival and development in 20 years”.

The service delivery crisis, spurred on by a human resources disaster in the education and health sectors has worsened conditions for women and children in the last two months across Zimbabwe. Consequently, school attendance has dropped to a mere 20 percent, major hospitals have closed and poor management of cholera cases has seen a high fatality rate of 4.8%, way above the 1% international threshold.

The UNICEF appeal outlines key emergency interventions in water, sanitation, health and education areas including:
• Procurement of water treatment chemicals for all urban  areas for the next four months
• Provision of medicines and equipment to Cholera Treatment Centres.
• Provision of essential medicines (including vaccines) for 1,780 health facilities in 62 districts
• Expansion of community management of acute malnutrition

Already UNICEF has been responding to the emergency by providing IV fluids, Drips, Tents and Cholera beds for Cholera Treatment Centres.  UNICEF is also trucking 470,000 litres of water per day, drilling boreholes, and distributing water purification to over 3.5 million people in Zimbabwe.

UNICEF has brought in a team of 12 emergency specialists to work in the sectors of water, sanitation, health, education, child protection and nutrition. UNICEF has also brought in logisticians and borehole drilling experts to intensify relief efforts.

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Miliband: Mugabe has caused death on 'grand scale'

12/12/2008 - 12:25:59
The British Foreign Secretary David Miliband is accusing the Zimbabwean
President of causing death and destruction on a grand scale.

Mr Miliband is rejecting Robert Mugabe's claim that the country's deadly
cholera outbreak is over.

Speaking on the sidelines of the European Union summit in Brussels, Mr
Miliband said it's evident to anyone who hears the tales of people in
Zimbabwe that cholera remains a very significant problem.

On Thursday, Mr Mugabe declared there is no cholera in Zimbabwe and the
country's health crisis is over, even as the United Nations raised the death
toll from the epidemic to almost 800.

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Epidemic spotlights Mugabe's neglect

Martin Fletcher, Harare | December 13, 2008

Article from:  The Australian
CHOLERA epidemics are normally easy to control, but in Zimbabwe
circumstances are far from normal.

The national healthcare system has allbut ceased to function -- more than
half the nurses and doctors have left the country, a few of those who remain
will workfor the equivalent of barely 23c a month, and most hospitals have

Municipal water and sewerage systems have collapsed since President Robert
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party set up the Zimbabwe National Water Authority to take
control of them from opposition-run councils three years ago.

Forty per cent of Harare's water is now lost through leaks, and last week
the city ran out of purification chemicals.

In a country where millions are already weakened by AIDS or malnutrition,
the fatality rate from cholera is 24.8 per cent, according to UN figures.

Running a mass public information campaign is hard because most Zimbabweans
can no longer afford to buy newspapers or batteries for their radios, let
alone televisions. They cannot afford soap or the sugar and salt that
cholera victims require for rehydration, or transport to reach the treatment

Harare City Council is offering free burials partly to prevent destitute
families burying cholera victims in shallow graves.

Beyond advising Zimbabweans not to shake hands -- they now touch wrists
instead -- the Government has almost entirely abrogated responsibility for
fighting the epidemic.

The Department for International Development is augmenting the salaries of
medics with US dollars to prevent the health system from collapsing, and the
Save the Children group pays them in food.

UNICEF is organising rubbish collections, and importing chemicals to purify
the water. UNICEF and Oxfam are training more than 2000 hygiene promoters.

"All that can be said for the Government is that it's no longer obstructing
us," one Western official said.

For once, the Mugabe regime is paying a price for its neglect of the people.
The cholera epidemic is showing the world that Zimbabwe is a failed state.
And the disease is spreading to South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and
Mozambique, alerting them to the rising cost of leaving Mugabe in power.

The Times

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Symptom of Mugabe's decaying state

Ben Macintyre | December 13, 2008

Article from:  The Australian
THE horror story that is cholera-racked Zimbabwe begins with a hand pump in
a London street and a doctor who came up with a simple but brilliant idea
150 years ago. Cholera is more than a dreadful disease: it thrives on
ignorance and abject poverty; it breaks out when a state breaks down; and it
is ultimately curable not by medicine alone but by organising society on
rational principles. The only antidote to cholera is political action.

Today, Robert Mugabe's most powerful accuser is John Snow, the man who
tracked down the cause of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae in Victorian
Britain. In September 1854, cholera broke out in central London, killing
about 700 people in a matter of weeks. Conventional medical wisdom held that
the disease was caused by some mysterious miasma in the air, "a wandering
ferment", a deathly smell lurking beneath the rank odours of the city.

Snow spotted that the brewery workers in Soho, who mostly drank ale, and the
inhabitants of the workhouse, which was one of the smelliest places in the
area but had its own water source, seemed to be immune. By plotting and
mapping the spread of the disease, he traced the source to the water pump in
Broad Street (now Broadwick Street): an infected baby's nappy had been
washed in a bucket, with the contaminated water then tipped into a cesspool
that seeped into the water supply.

Snow established a direct correlation between death from cholera and walking
distance to the pump. People living below the sewage outlets on the Thames,
he worked out, were 14 times likelier to contract cholera than those
obtaining their water upstream. The clincher came when a former resident of
Soho who had moved to Hampstead asked her son to bring her some of the
distinctive-tasting water from her old neighbourhood: she died a few days

The young doctor was still widely disbelieved. For many, the idea that they
were dying from drinking their neighbours' faeces was too disgusting to

But Snow was a brave man (he had administered chloroform to Queen Victoria
during the birth of her eighth child, so he knew about taking risks.) He
removed the handle from the pump. The epidemic ceased.

Snow not only changed our understanding of cholera but helped to confirm the
link between disease and living conditions, reinforcing the fledgling
concept of public health. Joseph Bazalgette's enclosed sewage system, begun
in 1858, would henceforth ensure that sewage did not run into London's
drinking water.

A series of public health acts in the mid-19th century marked an acceptance
of the state's role in maintaining minimal standards of public health,
forging a movement that would culminate in the foundation of Britain's
National Health Service in 1948.

Vibrio cholerae was defeated but not dead. Cholera returns when a society's
basic structure is broken. Outbreaks of cholera followed the Indian Ocean
tsunami in 2004. The disease killed hundreds in Basra after the city's
sewage system was destroyed during the invasion of Iraq. One of the worst
recent outbreaks afflicted Rwandan refugees fleeing the genocide.

The cholera bacterium - easily controlled but horribly persistent - is the
ultimate mark of a failing state. Snow's discovery, and the public health
movement that it helped to create, was proof that only political action
could eradicate the scourge. This is undoubtedly true of Zimbabwe, where the
cause of the disease lives in his own palace, surrounded by security guards,
drinking bottled mineral water. Mugabe's spokesman has accused the West of
using the cholera outbreak as a weapon to oust him; and so it should, for a
state that allows its citizens to drink their sewage has broken a basic
compact and forfeited any residual legitimacy.

No one knows how many people have died from cholera in Zimbabwe because, as
in Victorian London, no one is accurately counting. The public health
laboratory in Harare, where contaminated water could be tested, has closed
down because of a lack of running water. The Zimbabwe National Water
Authority is another front for corruption, pumping money into the pockets of
Mugabe and his cronies, while the country's water, the essence of life,
becomes a conduit of death. Zimbabwe's Health Minister has advised citizens
not to shake hands to prevent spreading the disease, advice that seems oddly
reminiscent of the Victorian health expert who insisted that the ailment was
caused by eating too many plums.

My most vivid memory of Harare, from long before the country began to
disintegrate, is the smell of the blossoming jacaranda trees. Those same
streets now reek of raw sewage, in a country slowly being poisoned by its

In 1858, just four years after Snow's discovery, London suffered the Great
Stink when drains overflowed and bacteria thrived in the warm summer. The
smell reached the House of Commons and the honourable members finally acted:
the drains were fixed and cholera was eradicated. The stink of corruption
and death from Zimbabwe can no longer be ignored, but the cure, like that
for cholera, may be surprisingly simple: a matter of political willpower and
concerted action.

One contemporary said of Snow: "The naked truth was what he sought and
loved." He simply removed the handle of the pump. The naked truth is that
the only way Zimbabwe can recover is to remove Mugabe.

The Times

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Still no news on missing Zimbabwean activists

Staff reporter
12 December 2008

More than 20 political and civic activists are spending another week with
their whereabouts unknown after being abducted by faceless thugs.

Jestina Mukoko, the head of the violence documentation centre Zimbabwe Peace
Project (ZPP) has been missing since last week, while her two colleagues
from the ZPP were abducted on Monday.

Morgan Tsvangirai's former aide Ghandi Mudzingwa, who was also kidnapped in
Harare on Monday, is also still missing. The whereabouts of at least 15
other MDC activists, abducted several weeks ago, remain unknown.

There has been no positive feedback, despite the High Court ordering police
to conduct thorough searches. On Tuesday a High Court judge ordered police
to search 'everywhere in their jurisdiction' for Jestina, and update the
courts on their progress. But on Thursday, the day the police were supposed
to start implementing the court order, they failed to do so, saying 'they
had to attend the burial of Elliot Manyika,' the ZANU PF political commisar
who died last weekend in a car accident.

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Can you pass this information to people in a position to find out more

December 12th, 2008

We have just received an sms that says:

Constable Gambe from Hre Support Unit ZRP has been cited as a key player in the abduction of Jestina Mukoko and others.

The sms comes with a request to pass the message on and ask people to try and substantiate this.

Please can you forward the information to people you know - journalists etc - who may be in a position to find out more.

No vigilantes please!

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UN's Ban calls on Mugabe to consider future of his people

Africa News
Dec 12, 2008, 13:39 GMT

Geneva - The cholera crisis in Zimbabwe is not over, United Nations
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Friday, urging President Robert Mugabe to
consider the well-being of his people and agree to a power sharing deal with
the opposition.

He said he held 'tense' discussions with Mugabe in Doha two weeks ago on the
power sharing deal reached in September with Morgan Tsvangirai, the
opposition leader, but could not get a 'positive response.'

'He should look for the future of his country and his own people who have
suffered too much for too long,' Ban told reporters in Geneva, where he was
set later in the day to attend a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of
the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Ban said leaders should stay in office only to ensure the good of their

He said the 'alarming reports' he received meant that he could not agree
with Muagabe's statements that the cholera epidemic was over.

UN statistics showed the number of cholera related deaths in the country
continued to rise, and Ban warned that border areas were at risk as well.

Speaking about his most recent meeting with the 84-year-old president, Ban
said he spoke 'from the bottom of my heart' with Mugabe and 'pressed as hard
as I could.'

The major concession granted from those talks was that UN teams were allowed
access to the country to help assess and fight the cholera outbreak.

Western leaders have called for Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe for 28 years,
to step down.

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Passport fees 305% up as a quarter of Zimbabweans flee

Zimbabweans will now fork out US$670 for an adult passport up from US$220,
the country's Registrar General has said.

Friday 12 December 2008, by Alice Chimora

Announcing the shocking 305 per cent increase in adult passport fees that is
set to affect millions of prospective travellers across the country, the
Registrar General's office cited escalating costs in sourcing the paper to
produce the travel document.

Before the latest increase, children were paying only US$120 but will now be
required to pay US$607.

Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede was not immediately available for comments
but officials at his office said the latest review in fees was with
immediate effect.

"If an adult loses his his/her passport one would be asked to pay US$400 to
get a new passport," said an official at Mudede's office.

An estimated three million Zimbabweans are currently outside the country
after fleeing home because of political violence and worsening economic

Hundreds of thousands more Zimbabweans travel to neighbouring countries
especially more prosperous South Africa and Botswana in search of food and
other basic commodities in critical short supply in their own country.

A deadly outbreak of cholera that the United Nations says has killed close
to 800 people has driven hundreds of sick Zimbabweans to neighbouring
countries where hospitals are better.

South Africa which has received most of the cholera victims yesterday
declared its border region with Zimbabwe a disaster zone because of the
increase in cholera cases as Zimbabweans flee in search of treatment.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of an unprecedented economic crisis that is
highlighted by the world's highest inflation of 231 million percent, acute
shortages of food, fuel, electricity, hard cash and every basic survival

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New Z$500 million cotton bill introduced

By Lance Guma
12 December 2008

The Central Bank on Friday announced it would introduce a new Z$500 million
dollar note made of '100 percent cotton,' as the country battles world
record inflation. A published statutory instrument said the new note would
be purple in colour and have the text 'RBZ' embedded on the front, and on
the back have 'an impression of dairy cows being milked mechanically and a
miner drilling underground.' The country has been crippled by shortages of
bank notes which has fuelled long winding queues of desperate customers
wanting to withdraw their money from banks.

After running down the country's economy Mugabe's regime does not have the
money to buy the special paper used to print money and has now been forced
to use cotton materials to print bank notes. It's not yet clear how money
made from 'cotton' will look and no one has seen the samples, but some
experts suggested it might be a hybrid of several other materials used to
make the money 'as close to paper' as possible. The new Z$500 million bill
is not expected to change anything as it's estimated to only cover the cost
of buying 8 loaves of bread.

A Z$200 million dollar note is also expected, but no date has been given yet
when both the Z$200 and Z$500 million denominations will be unveiled. Only
last week the RBZ unveiled new $10 million, $50 million and $100 million
notes, following a review of weekly cash withdrawal limits for individual
account holders from $500 000 to $100 million, and $1 million to $50 million
for companies.

With inflation officially at 231 million percent but unofficially over 500
quintillion percent, analysts say the new measures amount to a 'dog chasing
its tail.' Under Gono's regime, 29 new bank notes have been introduced in
2008 alone in an effort to keep pace with inflation. But every time cash
withdrawal limits are raised, with the consequent increase in the amount of
money supplied, in most cases, prices of goods and services have also
doubled, if not trebled.

This has meant none of the cash withdrawal limits has ever covered the daily
basic cost of living for Zimbabweans. In the absence of fundamental
political and economic reforms, the central bank remains treating the
symptoms - and not the disease.

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US to push United Nations to act on Zimbabwe

Washington - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will urge the UN
Security Council next week to to take "meaningful action" against Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe for his mismanagement of the faltering country, the
US State Department said Friday. Rice heads to New York Monday and Tuesday
for discussions that will also focus on the tension between India and
Pakistan, piracy on the Somali coast and other topics, spokesman Sean
McCormack said.

She will also attend a meeting of a group of Israeli-Palestinian peace
mediators known as the Quartet that includes the European Union, Russia, the
United Nations and United States.

President George W Bush added his voice this week to international calls for
Mugabe, 84, to resign, as crumbling water and sewage infrastructure has
sparked an outbreak of cholera that has so far killed about 800 people and
infected thousands.

McCormack would not specify what Rice will request from the Security
Council, or whether she will seek a resolution containing sanctions against
the Mugabe regime.

"Thus far the council has not really been willing to take meaningful action,
and that's been unfortunate," McCormack said. "We have spoken out quite
clearly and forcefully about that."

The United States and United Nations have warned the cholera epidemic is
worsening, with the latter also saying half of Zimbabwe's population could
face food shortages.

The US Agency for International Development announced Thursday it will
provide 6.2 million dollars to fight the cholera outbreak in addition to the
4.6 million dollars already spent.

Water supplies, sanitation and state health and education services have
fallen as the Zimbabwe's economy caves under eight years of hyperinflation
and mismanagement.

Mugabe's forces have brutally beaten and intimidated dissidents to maintain
a grip on his 28-year-rule. He won re-election this year in a vote monitors
said was rigged and the United States and European Union called a "sham."

"One man and his cronies, Robert Mugabe, are holding this country hostage,"
the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, told reporters in Washington
Thursday. "And Zimbabwe is rapidly deteriorating into failed state status."

Mugabe, told a gathering of party supporters at the funeral for a senior
member of his Zanu-PF party on Thursday, that the West was exaggerating the
threat posed by cholera to justify a military invasion.

"Now there is no cholera, there is no cause for war," he said.

The Zimbabwean government backed off those comments on Friday. Mugabe was
being sarcastic to highlight the desire of Western countries to invade
Zimbabwe, his spokesman, George Charamba, said.Posted : Fri, 12 Dec 2008
19:54:09 GMT
      Author : DPA

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MDC T Postpones Congress to March 2009

HARARE, December 12 2008 - The Morgan Tsvangirai led Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) faction, has postponed its annual national
conference which had been scheduled for late December to March next year.

In a statement, Nelson Chamisa, the MDC T spokesperson, on Friday said
the party decided to postpone the event as it needs to deal with the
political processes currently taking place and the challenges facing the

The MDC T is currently involved in power-sharing talks with Zanu PF
and the smaller faction of the MDC.

However, the talks have stalled due to sharp difference over the
allocation of key ministries, appointment of senior public service
employees, among other outstanding issues.

"The MDC's national council, the party's supreme-decision making body
has decided that the annual national conference will be held from 27-29
March 2009," said Chamisa.

According to the MDC Constitution, the National Conference should be
held every year.

Chamisa said the venue of the conference is yet to be decided.

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"The time has come for Robert Mugabe to go"

WASHINGTON, December 12, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ - US
Department of State Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman

Taken questions

QUESTION: The Secretary's been quite outspoken about President Mugabe, and -
well, what are you planning next week at the UN in terms of trying to take
action against Mugabe and to force him out?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. We'll put out a media note for you either today or
tomorrow just formally announcing - she'll be up at the UN for a variety of
different activities, and we'll try to describe those in more detail either
Friday or Monday for you. I expect Zimbabwe will be a point of discussion.
Certainly, she'll be seeing many of her colleagues on the Security Council
as well as many of her counterparts who will be coming to New York as well
to address a variety of different issues, whether that's piracy or whether
that's Zimbabwe.

We have made quite clear where we stand, and we think it is time for all
countries who have what I refer to as unused leverage to use that leverage.
The time has come for Robert Mugabe to go. His continuance in that position
is a hindrance to Zimbabwe being able to get itself - pull itself out of
this deep crisis in which it finds itself, which is just sad to watch. And
the countries in the region have a special responsibility in that regard.
There is a humanitarian crisis that is only deepening, and we're trying to
respond to that. And I think in a couple of minutes, you will - well, once
we're done here, our Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ambassador McGee, will be out
here along with USAID Administrator Fore to give you a little sense for not
only the situation on the ground, but how the United States is responding to

The last count I had - and perhaps Administrator Fore has an update for
you - just a couple days ago, we had 14,000 cases of cholera in Zimbabwe
with the prediction that that was - that number was going to - only going to

QUESTION: You say that the countries in the region have a special


QUESTION: That would be particularly South Africa. So what are you doing -

MR. MCCORMACK: As well as others, as well as others. Namibia -

QUESTION: Yeah, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia. So -

MR. MCCORMACK: Namibia, Angola.

QUESTION: So what - what are you doing specifically to try and get those
countries to do something? Is Jendayi Frazer, for example, doing a trip
around the region? Is she calling meetings? I mean, what are you

MR. MCCORMACK: She's been working -

QUESTION: You can't keep saying do something and -

MR. MCCORMACK: She - I know - she's been working the phones. I know that the
Brits, as well as others, have been working the phones on this issue. And
you know, I can't rule out the Secretary herself won't be making some phone
calls as well. We'll try to keep you up to date on that.

QUESTION: Who has she called so far? Has she called a few (inaudible)?

MR. MCCORMACK: Nobody, thus far. We'll keep you up to date.

SOURCE : US Department of State

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Student Leader Launches Court Challenge

HARARE, December 11 2008 - Lawyers representing suspended Zimbabwe
National Student's Union (ZINASU) secretary general, Lovemore Chinoputs,a
have filed an urgent chamber application seeking an order to have University
of Zimbabawe (UZ) authorities finalise disciplinary proceedings against the
student leader.

Chinoputsa, through his lawyer Joshua Shekede of Wintertons Legal
Practitioners, has approached the courts seeking reinstatement at the
college before the end of the current semester.

"Failure by the UZ to conclude the hearing before early January 2009
will result in the applicant (Chinoputsa) suffering immeasurable prejudice
since his degree programme will take longer to complete due to the  fact
that he cannot be enrolled for the second semester which begins in February
or March without enrolling for the first semester," argued Shekede in an
urgent affidavit.

Chinoputsa, who is a third year Bachelor of Social Work, Honours
degree student, was suspended on 26 July 2007 on allegations of
masterminding disturbances that rocked the college on the 7th of July the
same year.

He is facing charges of wrongfully and unlawfully inciting students to
destroy university property among other six disciplinary charges.

He was arrested with eight other students who were charged separately.
He first appeared for a hearing on the 6th of August and the matter has been
postponed on six occasions.

"On 20 November this year, my legal practitioners received a letter
from the legal proctor advising them that the hearing had been postponed
indefinitely," said Chinoputasa in the founding affidavit.

He hopes that the court will order the respondents, UZ vice chancellor
Levy Nyagura and Professor VN Muzvidziwa, to set down and conclude the
matter on a date no later than 18 December 2008.

The hearings for the other eight students have since been concluded.

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“US envoy offered me World Bank post” - Gono

December 12th, 2008

Gono gone nuts

Click to enlarge. Finally got a copy of this from Wednesday’s copy of The Chronic. I have never laughed so much in my life. With delusions like these you can understand why our economy is in the shape its in. In fact, it’s now an e-card its so amusing. Send it from here.

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ZIMBABWE: Call to suspend diamonds from the Kimberley Process

Photo: David Hecht/IRIN
Diamond trade under scrutiny
JOHANNESBURG , 12 December 2008 (IRIN) - Civil society is calling for the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Kimberley Process, an international certification scheme to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the multibillion dollar market.

Global Witness, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that led the campaign to set up the system, said in a statement on 12 December: "Members of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition are calling upon the Kimberley Process to suspend Zimbabwe from the rough diamond certification scheme, in light of recent violence used by the government to take control of the Chiadzwa diamond fields [in Manicaland Province]."

The Kimberley Process participants are governments, the diamond industry, and concerned NGOs. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was launched in January 2003 to strangle the trade in conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, which are used to fund conflict.

In recent weeks President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF government launched "Operation No Return", in which as many as 50 diamond diggers have been killed, according to reports.

Most of the diamond fields are located in the Marange area, about 60km southwest of the provincial capital, Mutare, near the Mozambique border. The state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation is responsible for mining the diamonds, which are marketed by another state entity, the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ).

The US government has targeted both organisations with sanctions, in response to the recent elections that were widely condemned as neither free nor fair, for "undermining of democratic processes and institutions in Zimbabwe".

"The Kimberley Process must take a stand against the harnessing of diamonds for systematic abuses by a pariah regime," said Annie Dunnebacke of Global Witness.

"We can no longer assume that Zimbabwe has the ability or the ethical standards needed to control its diamonds in ways that conform to the principles espoused by the Kimberley Process."

''Revenues from Zimbabwe's diamonds - whether mined and marketed within or outside formal government control - are helping to prop up Robert Mugabe's repressive and increasingly violent regime''
Zimbabwe's government has few remaining sources of foreign currency, its economy is collapsing, unemployment is above 80 percent, food shortages afflict nearly half the population, and the last official figure for annual inflation, released in July 2008, put the rate at 231 million percent.

"Revenues from Zimbabwe's diamonds — whether mined and marketed within or outside formal government control — are helping to prop up Robert Mugabe's repressive and increasingly violent regime," Global Witness said.

There were also indications that "Large volumes of Zimbabwean diamonds [are] being smuggled to other countries in contravention of the Kimberley Process. In recent months, smugglers have been arrested in India and in Dubai with large quantities of diamonds, reportedly of Zimbabwean origin," the organisation noted.

"The Kimberley Process was designed to halt and prevent conflict diamonds through an international regulatory regime based on internal controls in each participating country," said Ian Smillie, of Partnership Africa Canada, an NGO promoting sustainable development in Africa.

"The perpetration of human rights abuses and indiscriminate extrajudicial killing by governments in pursuit of Kimberley Process objectives is little better than the problem the scheme seeks to end. The Kimberley Process should act to condemn and prevent such violence." 


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Remaining faithful in a situation of crisis and hopelessness

On Sunday evening the 7th December I spoke at my old church from my
University of Cape Town days, Christ Church in Kenilworth, Cape Town, on the
topic "Remaining faithful in a situation of crisis and hopelessness".

I was asked to speak by Christ Church's Minister-in-charge Duncan McLea in
the context of the terrible suffering being endured by so many Zimbabweans
at this time. This suffering comes in the wake of what I call the "perfect
humanitarian storm" - the unique and unprecedented convergence of Aids,
poverty, malnutrition, a regime that doesn't care and which deliberately
underplays the seriousness of the situation, and - now on top of it all -

What is the role of the church and people of faith in this situation? That
is what I sought to address.

The following verses in 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 formed the basis of the

"Nevertheless, each one of you should retain the place in life that the Lord
assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down
in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He
should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is
nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts. Each one should remain in
the situation he was in when God called him. Were you a slave when you were
called? Don't let that trouble you - although if you gain your freedom, do
so. For he who was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman; similarly, he
who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave. You were brought at
a price; do not become slaves of men. Brothers, each man, as responsible to
God should remain in the situation God called him to."

Christ Church has recorded the sermon which is posted on its web site at the
following link:

Senator David Coltart
11th December 2008

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Country to Receive $6.2 Million From U.S. Aid Agency (Washington DC)

Cheryl Pellerin

11 December 2008

Less than a week after giving $600,000 to help the Zimbabwe government and
international donors get control of a deadly cholera epidemic that has
killed more than 800 people since August, the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) announced that it will contribute another $6.2 million
to the effort.

The new funding will support new health and water, sanitation and hygiene
programs and allow USAID to support coordination efforts such as
intensifying community health and hygiene promotion and education

A five-member USAID disaster assistance response team (DART) has been on the
ground in Zimbabwe for nearly a week to help with the outbreak, coordinate
the U.S. assistance effort with those of other donors, and provide technical
assistance to the international community. (See "United States Gives
$600,000 to Fight Zimbabwe Cholera Epidemic.")

"The USAID DART is working to get aid to those who have contracted cholera
and those who are at risk of contracting cholera," said USAID Administrator
Henrietta Fore during a December 11 briefing. "Poor water and sanitation
systems, coupled with increasingly inaccessible health and other services,
have caused the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe. This outbreak is a breakdown
of Zimbabwe's government services, plain and simple."


According to news reports, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said December 11
that there is no cholera in his country, even as the number of deaths
exceeds 800 and the number of cholera cases approaches 17,000.

A group coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated the
region could see more than 60,000 cases before the epidemic is over.

"I don't think you can de-link the current humanitarian crisis from the
political crisis that Zimbabwe finds itself in," U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe
James McGee said at the briefing. "And this political crisis is nothing more
than the result of the failed economic policies, corruption and human rights
abuses on the part of the government of Zimbabwe."

Working with experts from the United Nations and nongovernmental
organizations in the country, the DART team has completed rapid assessments
and identified how the United States best can help.

"The United States will support international coordination efforts by
funding the World Health Organization's command-and-control center and a
health coordinator position for the United Nations coordination structure,"
Fore said. "We will also work to intensify community health and hygiene
promotion and education."

WHO has established a cholera control and command center with the Zimbabwe
Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and other health partners to respond in
a coordinated way to the country's health challenges.

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country, bordered by South Africa to the south,
Botswana to the southwest, Zambia to the northwest and Mozambique to the
east. USAID experts are traveling to border areas where Zimbabweans are
seeking cholera treatment and other services.

On December 2, South African health authorities said the country had
recorded 460 cholera cases and nine related deaths, mostly in border areas
near Zimbabwe.

About half the cholera cases have been recorded in Budiriro, a heavily
populated suburb on the western outskirts of Harare, the capital, WHO
reports. Other major concentrations of reported cases include Beitbridge on
the South African border and Mudzi on the border with Mozambique.


Over the coming days, USAID will provide emergency relief supplies such as
soap, oral rehydration salts and water bladders to address the most pressing

The major cause of the cholera outbreak is the inadequate supply of clean
drinking water and poor levels of hygiene. Shortages of medicines, equipment
and staff at health facilities countrywide are compounding the health

The region's rainy season has begun and more people will begin to travel
during the Christmas season, so strong measures will be needed to prevent
the further spread of cholera.

"The DART team has confirmed that from what they have been able to see, the
situation is worsening," said Ky Luu, director of USAID's Office of U.S.
Foreign Disaster Assistance.

"There are reported case fatality rates of 4.8 percent," he added. "This is
far and above the emergency threshold, which is 1 percent. In certain areas,
they're noting 50 percent case fatality rates. This is really unacceptable
because cholera is easily treatable."

The USAID contribution brings the total U.S. humanitarian assistance to
relieve Zimbabwe's food and health crisis to more than $226 million since
October 2007. The emergency assistance is in addition to the $32.2 million
U.S. development program in Zimbabwe in 2008.

If the situation in Zimbabwe gets worse, Luu added, USAID is prepared to
send in more technical staff as needed.

More information about USAID's emergency humanitarian assistance programs is
available at the agency's Web site.

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Robbed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police

As desperation and lawlessness take hold in Zimbabwe we are beginning to eat one another. Here’s some citizen reporting illustrating what life is like on the ground. If you hear about, or experience these kinds of incidents please contact Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. Speak out, make a complaint, don’t let them get away with it.

I had an unfortunate experience last night.  I was travelling down Glenara Avenue and was stopped by two policemen who asked for my drivers’ license and my ID which I of course gave them.  They then would not give back my documents until I ‘gave them something’.  They got into my car and would not get out .  I gave the one $100 and then they went through my handbag for more.  They took $200 which for me is a lot of money.  It was a very ugly event.  I went and made a charge at Highlands police station but no doubt won’t hear anything nor get my money back. - Emma

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Shady Dealings With Antiretrovirals

By Ephraim Nsingo

HARARE, Dec 12 (IPS) - The current political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe
is dealing a blow to the provision of free treatment and care to people
living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs).

While there has been a significant decline in the country's HIV prevalence
rate from 18.1 percent in 2005 to 15.6 percent in 2007, activists believe
this has been "the most difficult year" for HIV-positive persons.

It has become increasingly difficult for PLWHAs to access antiretroviral
(ARV) drugs and treatment for opportunistic infections because a number of
health institutions, including two of the main referral hospitals in Harare,
have closed some of their units due to lack of resources. In addition, the
mass exodus of health care workers, who have sought better working
conditions and higher salaries overseas, has led to long queues in hospitals
and clinics.

Otto Saki, acting director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR),
said the plight of PLWHAs had been worsened by the deterioration of the
political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.

"We have recorded an increase in the cases of individuals failing to access
ARV treatment. This is linked to the current collapse of the health delivery
system and broader issues of governance," he said.

AIDS activists agree. "We are facing a lot of challenges. The current
situation has made it very difficult for most of our members, especially
those in rural areas, to access treatment," said Sikhumbuzo Mvinjelwa,
chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS
(ZNNP+). "[Apart from access to health care], the transport costs are so
prohibitive that it is not possible for patients to travel to the nearest
health centre to collect drugs. Most of them end up defaulting [from their
treatment plan]."

Mvinjelwa told IPS that while international donors are still supplying ARVs
to Zimbabwe, most of the drugs and other forms of financial support do not
reach the intended beneficiaries -- those who are living with HIV. "Much of
the aid is diverted by health workers to PLWHAs who are not open about their
status," he said.

Aid diverted

In Zimbabwe, free treatment is given only to PLWHAs who are registered with
an Aids Service Organisation (ASO), through which ARVs are distributed. In
times of economic crisis and financial hardships in the country, however,
some health care workers have started to sell the drugs -- which are
supposed to be free of charge -- to HIV-positive Zimbabweans who are still
financially well off and not willing to disclose their status and register
with an ASO. Other health carers pass on the drugs to unregistered,
HIV-positive relatives and friends.

"It is not all PLWHA who are open about their status. There are those who
connive with health workers to divert drugs," Mvinjelwa told IPS.

One such case where money meant for free ARV treatment has been diverted has
been documented in a current court case where Esther Mutero and 77 other
PLWHAs accuse a military official, Tanaka Mutava, of embezzling aid of the
Mashambanzou Care Unit in Harare, an ASO with which they tried to register
to receive access to free treatment.

Mutero and the other complainants are all members of Takashinga, a support
group at St. John's farm on the outskirts of Harare. In their affidavit,
they say they have not received assistance for the last few months because
Mutava hindered them from registering with Mashambanzou Care Unit.

They accuse Mutava of "unilaterally and illegally hindering them from
continuing to access the treatment" in September by advising ASOs that the
applicants "belong to him". He allegedly told them they were covered under
his Miriro Orphanage, another NGO based at St. John's farm, which is also
run by Mutava. The complainants further claim he threatened officials from
ASOs attempting to offer assistance.

Mutava, however, denies the charges, while officials were not able to
comment on the matter until it has been dealt with in court.

Mutava's "actions threaten the very lives of all the applicants who are
living with HIV/AIDS and urgently require medication for opportunistic
infections and food to complement the medication," states the affidavit. "If
applicants continue being prevented from obtaining food aid and medication,
they will succumb to opportunistic infections and they will die."

Mutero and the other complainants also claim that Mutava, a soldier employed
by the Zimbabwe National Army, was sourcing financial aid from local and
international donors to assist PLWHAs, but that the money never reached the
intended recipients.

Lives threatened

Justice Aids Trust (JAT) -- a Harare-based NGO that advocates for the rights
of those infected and affected by HIV -- says Mutero's complaint is one of
many. The organisation is dealing with a number of cases where persons have
used community-based organisations as a front to source and then abuse donor

JAT provides free legal support services to HIV-positive persons and
advocates for the formulation of policies, legal frameworks and legislation
that facilitate HIV prevention efforts as well as care, treatment and
support for PLWHA.

"There are a lot of organisations [aimed at supporting PLWHAs in Zimbabwe],
but the intended beneficiaries are not getting much services," said JAT
projects lawyer, Portia Mabasa. "Some have come to us to complain, but we
have had problems with quite a number who are less privileged and cannot
commute to the office or call. In such cases, we only get the details when
we visit the areas or attend their support groups meetings."

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Stirrings on Zimbabwe

RW Johnson, National Post  Published: Friday, December 12, 2008

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -Every fresh report out of Zimbabwe is worse. Aid
workers now reckon that cholera deaths are already in the thousands and that
at least 60,000 are at risk. All hospitals have shut or have simply
collapsed. People are trawling in the gutters for drinking water now that
the water supply has failed in the capital, Harare. Five million are facing
famine. Many people have resorted to eating insects and bark from trees.
Inflation is at over 220,000,000%. And the government of President Robert
Mugabe, which has caused all this devastation in a country which used to be
the breadbasket of Africa, simply doesn't care. "Only God can remove me,"
says the 84-year-old Mugabe.

The crisis has, literally, begun to infect the whole region as desperate,
cholera-bearing refugees stream into South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and
Botswana, all of which have begun to experience cholera epidemics of their
own. South Africa, the regional superpower, says that the way out is through
a new power-sharing agreement between Mugabe and his opposition, though this
flies in the face of reason. Mugabe lost both the parliamentary and
presidential elections in March this year and not only refuses to go but
demands all the most important ministries for his party, making any such
deal impossible.

In the last week, however, the tone has changed. First Gordon Brown and then
George Bush and Nicolas Sarkozy, followed by Condoleezza Rice, Archbishop
Tutu and the Kenyan Premier, Raila Odinga, have all called for Mugabe to
go -- by forcible means, if need be. Mugabe's own spokesmen have noted the
change, saying that the "imperialists" want local Africans to do the dirty
work of overthrowing Mugabe for them. But, the spokesmen have continued,
Mugabe and his men won the country through an armed struggle, and they are
perfectly willing to fight again. This is pure bravado: There are clear
signs of disaffection in the Zimbabwean army, some of whose members rioted
in the streets of Harare last week. Unconfirmed reports suggest that 16
soldiers were summarily shot and another three tortured to death over the
incident. Meanwhile human rights atrocities continue on a daily basis in
Zimbabwe: Some 20 opposition activists and human rights workers have been
"disappeared," presumed dead, in the last month alone.

In fact, things may be stirring quietly. Zambia, one of Zimbabwe's
neighbours, stations its elite 2nd battalion troops at the Tug Argan
barracks in the Copperbelt city of Ndola, while Zambia's Commandos are at
the nearby Mushili depot. Recently both units have been training, in joint
operations with the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), triggering speculation
that the two states may envisage an armed invasion of Zimbabwe. After all,
this is exactly how Tanzania brought down Idi Amin in Uganda when his
bloodstained rule began to destabilize the region.

There is no doubt that such an action would be hugely popular not only in
Zambia and Botswana, but in many other parts of Africa, let alone further
afield. The man to watch is Ian Khama, President of Botswana and former head
of the BDF. He has taken the strongest line of all against Mugabe, refusing
to recognize him as president, and has broken diplomatic relations.

Botswana prides itself on being a progressive democracy and is furious that
Zimbabwe has inflicted grave damage on its trade, that desperate Zimbabwean
refugees are responsible for much of Botswana's crime, that foot and mouth
disease from Zimbabwe has made inroads into Botswana's important cattle
industry and that on top of all that Botswana is now dealing with cholera
cases of its own. Khama is also said to be gay and Mugabe is a notorious and
very public homophobe.

Botswana is a small country of less than two million people, but the BDF is
well trained and equipped. The United States has built a giant air base at
Molepolole, outside the capital, Gaberone, and from there the BDF is able to
deploy 18 F-5 fighters, three giant C-130 transports and a whole fleet of
other planes, including helicopter gunships. It has 86 tanks, all the latest
artillery and missiles and almost all its officers are U.S.-trained.

Whenever the BDF has been deployed abroad -- in peacekeeping operations in
Sudan, Lesotho and Somalia-- it has acquitted itself well. Its 12,000-man
army is highly effective. When neighbouring Namibia decided to fight
Botswana over possession of an obscure island in the Okavango river a few
years ago, it quickly retired with a bloody nose. The BDF is tough,
professional and Khama, its commander-in-chief, knows it intimately.

Zambia also has an impressive little army on paper, including 24 Mig-19s
and -21s upgraded by the Israelis, but Botswana's defence budget is five
times bigger. Zambia's function would be to make a simultaneous incursion
across Zimbabwe's northern border as Botswana entered from the south, but
few believe that such a force would meet serious resistance. More important,
if Botswana acted on its own it would be vilified by its neighbours for
doing the West's work. If Zambia joined in, it would give Botswana
invaluable political cover.

Botswana won't move unless it is clear that it will be strongly supported by
Britain and America. Already, U. S. influence there is extremely strong:
There are rumours of a U. S. detention centre for African al-Qaeda activists
at Molepolole, and certainly if one tries to approach that base one is
quickly sent packing (I tried). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and
Harvard and Baylor universities are all heavily involved in Botswana, an
American heads the country's only university and the United States provides
significant aid.

When Bush and Rice say they want Mugabe out, it registers strongly there.

Britain has now sent to Zimbabwe a junior foreign minister, Mark Malloch
Brown, to attempt a last-minute rapprochement. If this mission fails we
could see military action quite soon. If this is what it takes to end
Mugabe's rule there is no doubt that it would come as a relief to the vast
mass of suffering Zimbabweans.

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Only International Community Can Ensure Mugabe's Fall


Zimbabwe's ruler Robert Mugabe is destroying his country and trampling human
rights as the international community looks on. It's an impossibility and a
sign of helplessness, says Deutsche Welle's Ute Schaeffer.

Has the end finally come for the despot Mugabe? Comments from the
international community leave the question unanswered. "It is appropriate
for Robert Mugabe to leave," says the American Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice. But then she adds, "It is time that the international
community forces Mugabe from office." Europeans also see it this way - all
27 countries are united in the opinion that that Mugabe should retire, said
EU External Commissioner Javier Solana after talks with the Rice at the
beginning of the week in Brussels.

This all sounds good, even when reaching such clarity has taking a long
time. But what will this bring for the people of Zimbabwe? Who will throw
the senile, self-obsessed dictator Mugabe from the throne to which he is
clutching for dear life?

Time running out for Zimbabwe

Enough with all of these trite political messages! The decision-makers in
Brussels and Washington should be called. The people of Zimbabwe don't have
any more time to lose. Take a close look: Mugabe is letting his own people
starve and his country rot. He is crushing his opponents and Zimbabwe's
potential. Do people really need to be reminded of what is in the
International Declaration of Human Rights, which just celebrated another

They are undeniable, basic human rights that are being violated every day in
Zimbabwe: the right to freedom of thought and expression, the right to
express political will and vote, the right to social security, the right to
life and physical integrity and the right to education.

Dear states and democrats who have established the regard and assurance of
human rights in foreign policy and multi-lateral domestic policies for
yourselves: Do something other than issue trite political messages. Take
action. It's not enough to tighten the sanctions against representative of
the Mugabe regime (like the Europeans do), it's not enough to send expert
commissions who should solve the water crisis (like the South Africans do).
And it won't be enough to send humanitarian aid for millions of Zimbabweans.

Happy birthday for human rights?

It isn't about the supply crisis in Zimbabwe. It's about the massive
disregard for fundamental human rights and the international community is
losing its credibility as it does nothing -- right at the anniversary of the
general Declaration of Human Rights, coincidentally enough.

What would happen if the situation in Zimbabwe were to happen in Ukraine or
in the Balkans? Would the international community step in? In my opinion,
yes it would! But different rules apply for Africa. Europeans and Americans
are happy to take responsibility for Africans. Or at least in theory. So it
is high time for a crisis summit with the US-Europe-African Union. Why not
put the talked-about relationship between Europe and Africa to the test? Why
can't these three parties see themselves as advocates of human rights and
decide upon a united course of action for the people of Zimbabwe and against
the dictator Mugabe. Why is it so difficult to talk to Africa, which can see
how its own democratic ideals and therewith the ideal of a new, reformed
Africa are being betrayed everyday by its neighbors. The key to Mugabe's
fall lies in supporting South Africa and its neighbors by necessity. The
international community shouldn't get deeply involved in make joint efforts,
but rather request bilateral talks for each country with the government in

The question of why our policy in the case of Zimbabwe appears to be so
anemic, shameful and weak is as easy as it is disgraceful: The catastrophe
is too far away and other standards apply for Africa - even in our foreign

When it comes to human rights, it seems that out of sight is out of mind.

Ute Schaeffer is an Africa expert in the Africa and Middle East department
of DW-Radio in Bonn.

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