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Robert Mugabe admits Zimbabwe cholera epidemic is national emergency
Robert Mugabe's government has admitted for the first time that Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic is a national emergency.
Zimbabwe cholera: Robert Mugabe admits the epidemic is national emergency
Women walking home after collecting water from a factory in Harare's industrial area this week. Most of Harare has been without water leading to an estimated 11,000 cases of cholera

In a front-page story in the state-owned Herald newspaper, the health minister David Parirenyatwa asked for drugs, food, equipment and money.

"Our central hospitals are literally not functioning," he was quoted as telling donor representatives. "Our staff is demotivated and we need your support to ensure that they start coming to work and our health system is revived."

Deaths and illnesses could be attributed to "the current socio- economic environment", he said, asking for $11 million (£7.3 million) immediately, while the water ministry also sought help.

The fact that Mr Parirenyatwa, who has been accused of human rights abuses during the country's election period earlier this year, adopted such a realistic tone in a private meeting is understandable. But its being publicised with such prominence in a government mouthpiece amounts to a humiliating climbdown.

There have been more than 12,500 cases of cholera in the outbreak so far, with more than 560 deaths, but for weeks the authorities sought to play it down.

Mr Mugabe's regime consistently blames supposed Western sanctions for the country's ills, including the epidemic, but the claim was conspicuous by its absence from the Herald article.

Despite Mr Mugabe’s regular condemnations, America, Britain and the EU are Zimbabwe’s largest donors and Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, said London would increase its aid.

“Mugabe’s failed state is no longer willing or capable of protecting its people,” he said in a statement. “Thousands are stricken with cholera, and must be helped urgently. The international community’s differences with Mugabe will not prevent us doing so.

“For once we agree with the government of Zimbabwe - this is a national emergency.” The European Commission also said it would release extra funds, and the International Committee of the Red Cross said 13 tons of its supplies had already landed at Harare airport.

Paul Garwood, a spokesman for the World Health Organisation, said it was already sending anti-cholera medicines, and would provide more supplies and experts.

“What this request by the minister of health marked was a landmark moment in indicating government support for international assistance,” he said.

But the WHO’s global cholera co-ordinator Claire-Lise Chaignat gave warning: “We are in front of a disaster. We won’t be able to stop the outbreak like that, it is escalating.”

Nonetheless, with the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai still out of the country and negotiations over a power-sharing agreement on hold while the parties consider a constitutional amendment, there is a risk that Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party will seek to claim the credit if and when the epidemic is controlled.

But Mr Garwood said: "We as the humanitarian community are supporting the ministry of health and it is something we want to do to help the nation's people." The cholera epidemic is worst in Harare, but the second-worst- affected town is Beitbridge, on the border with South Africa.

A senior health worker in the town said the health minister visited last month. "He did nothing," he said. "He was just politicking. The day of the worst deaths we had run out of IV fluids, we were caught unawares, the hospital had nothing.

"We went to meet the South African health ministry and NGOs like Medecins Sans Frontieres, the French group Action against Hunger and the South African NGO Gift of Caregivers and UNICEF came in and saved the day. Now there is a semblance of a hospital. Without the NGOs it would have been even more of a disaster."

African criticism of the situation in Zimbabwe, and Mr Mugabe, is growing.

Kenya's prime minister Raila Odinga, called for the continent to take action. “It’s time for African governments to take decisive action to push him out of power,” he told the BBC.

Mr Odinga is widely believed to have won last year's Kenyan presidential election but settled for a power-sharing deal himself after his rival was declared the victor and violence broke out. He has since become one of Africa's most vocal supporters of democracy and a hardened critic of Mr Mugabe.

“Power-sharing is dead in Zimbabwe and will not work with a dictator who does not really believe in power-sharing,” he added.

In South Africa the government said it was obliged to help the humanitarian crisis.

"There are very clear signs people are beginning to die of starvation,” said its spokesman Themba Maseko. “South Africa and SADC (the Southern African Development Community) can’t just fold our arms.”

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Zimbabwe calls for help as cholera overwhelms doctors

By Angus Shaw, AP
Thursday, 4 December 2008

Women and children collect clean water from a UNICEF truck in Harare

AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

Women and children collect clean water from a UNICEF truck in Harare

Cholera-hit Zimbabwe today declared a national emergency over the collapse of its health care system.

In an international appeal for help in buying food and drugs minister of health David Parirenyatwa said: "Our central hospitals are literally not functioning."

The failure is one of the most devastating effects of an economic collapse that has left Zimbabweans struggling to eat and find clean drinking water.

Little help is coming from the government which has been paralysed since disputed March elections as President Robert Mugabe and the opposition wrangle over a power-sharing deal.

The United Nations said the cholera, blamed on lack of water treatment and broken sewage pipes, has killed more than 500 people across the country since August.

Matthew Cochrane, spokesman for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said Zimbabwe was "absolutely" facing a cholera epidemic, and said he hoped the government's declaration of an emergency would result in international aid agencies and donors stepping up their response.

"This is about supporting the people of Zimbabwe," he said, adding that aid should include water treatment plants and more medical staff.

The international Red Cross shipped in more supplies yesterday to fight the epidemic.

The health minister told the state mouthpiece newspaper The Herald: "Our staff is demotivated and we need your support to ensure that they start coming to work and our health system is revived."

High levels of cholera are common in the region, but the Red Cross, said it was hitting a population in Zimbabwe already weakened by hunger and poverty. The death toll could be much higher than the official figures, said the spokesman, as many Zimbabweans, particularly in rural areas, were not seeking medical treatment and their deaths were not being recorded.

Without help, the situation could get much worse. Walter Mzembi, deputy water minister, said the ministry had only enough chemicals to treat water nationally for 12 more weeks.

Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation, and Zimbabweans face daily shortages of food and other basics.

Even cash is in short supply. A new 100 million Zimbabwean dollar note went into circulation today in an attempt to ease the cash crunch. The amount of cash an individual can withdraw was also increased to 100 million Zimbabwe dollars million a week - enough to buy about 85 pints of clean water. The new bills and withdrawal limits meant long queues at banks.

In neighbouring South Africa, where increasing numbers of Zimbabweans are seeking cholera treatment, president Kgalema Motlanthe planned a cabinet meeting to consider ways to work with other countries in the region, donor organisations and aid groups to address the urgent need for food and other humanitarian needs.

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22 injured as NCA demonstrators clash with police

By Alex Bell
04 December 2008

At least 22 people were seriously injured after demonstrators clashed with
police on the streets of Harare on Thursday afternoon - during a peaceful
demonstration organised by the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA).

The NCA has called on the people of Zimbabwe to protest regularly and
consistently, every week ,until a resolution to the political crisis
engulfing Zimbabwe is found and implemented. The protests call for a
transitional authority, not a government, to immediately address the
desperate humanitarian crisis and as well as facilitate the writing of a
people-driven democratic constitution.

But the past two mass actions have been marred by a violent crackdown on the
demonstrators, who have faced arrest and beatings at the hands of police. A
female NCA member suffered a miscarriage after being severely assaulted by
police when she and more than 20 others were arrested in the first round of
demonstrations last month. Last week several people were injured and another
two demonstrators were arrested when the NCA again took to the streets.

NCA spokesman Madock Chivasa explained on Thursday evening that more than
1000 people gathered in Nelson Mandela Avenue in Harare in the afternoon. He
described the action as very successful because of the large number of
protesters that joined the mass action, but he explained that shortly after
the march began, police again descended on them.

"The police fired tear gas into the protesters and started beating people,"
Chivasa explained. "It led to running battles with the police and it ended
in chaos."

Chivasa said that at least 22 people were seriously injured in the clash
with police, and by Thursday evening the group was still trying to establish
how many people had been arrested.

"Currently our lawyers are trying to track down who has been arrested,"
Chivasa said. "The police were picking up people randomly off the streets so
we don't know how many people have been taken."

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More than 40 ZCTU protestors still in custody

By Violet Gonda
4 December 2008

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says 45 people remain in police
custody, a day after the labour union held demonstrations in various parts
of the country.

The police are holding without charge 32 people in Gweru, seven in Bulawayo
and five in Kariba.

The workers were arrested on Wednesday when riot police used force to break
up the peaceful protesters. The ZCTU led mass protests over the massive cash
crisis in the country.

Meanwhile it is reported the ZCTU leadership held a meeting with the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono on Thursday to discuss the issue of
cash withdrawal limits.

We were not able to reach the union leaders for comment, or to find out what
they discussed with Gono.

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Jestina Mukoko still missing, another ZPP field officer arrested

By Violet Gonda
4 December 2008

The Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) Jestina Mukoko, is still
missing, a day after she was abducted from her home in the early hours of
Wednesday morning. The crackdown on the political violence monitoring group
intensified on Thursday when a field officer with the ZPP, Pascal Gonzo, was
arrested in Nyanga.  A lawyer has been dispatched to Nyanga from Mutare to
find out the reason for the arrest.

Meanwhile, Lawyers for Human Rights in Harare spent the day searching for
Mukoko in various police stations, such as Matapi, Harare Central and
Norton, but could not find her.

Lawyer Otto Saki said: "We have searched high and low at all police stations
you'd expect someone arrested would be taken to or detained, but we have not
been able to locate her."

Surprisingly the police have been 'cooperating' with lawyers. Saki said it
is not clear if the police are being genuine or if they are deliberately
covering their tracks.

The civic leader and former television personality was kidnapped in a
pre-dawn raid at her Norton home by a group of 15 armed men who identified
themselves as from the police Law and Order section. She was taken away
still wearing her nightdress and was not allowed to get her shoes or

Mukoko's abduction has received much response from Zimbabwean and
International human rights groups, who are concerned about the on-going
persecution of rights defenders by the Mugabe regime. The ZPP has been
documenting rights abuses across the country, a topic that the regime would
like to cover up.

However, the kidnapping of innocent civilians is not new in Zimbabwe, and
the excellent response from concerned groups about Mukoko's abduction
highlights the fact that more concern appears to be expressed when it is a
'prominent individual' who disappears.

The whereabouts of 14 MDC activists and a two-year old baby are still
unknown more than a month since they disappeared. And only last Tuesday MDC
activist Chris Dlamini and another person known as Baba vaSarudzayi were
abducted from their homes in Harare and Norton respectively in the same
manner as Mukoko, but there has been less of an outcry over these

Beatings and arrests of members of pressure groups such as the Women of
Zimbabwe Arise, the National Constitutional Assembly and the ZCTU are
rampant, and yet we are still to see Zimbabweans registering their anger en

Political analyst Dr John Makumbe says it's not easy to challenge the brutal
Mugabe regime but, "organisers of street demonstrations have to first of all
convince the people that it is right to be killed, it is right to be
injured, it is right to be locked in a nasty cell in Matapi. And if you don't
convince people mentally along those lines, you will not mobilise them."

The other Zimbabweans still missing are:

1. Concillia Chinanzvavana, the MDC Mashonaland West provincial
Chairperson of the Women's Assembly, a former parliamentary candidate for
Zvimba South and a member of the MDC National Council.
2. Her husband, Emmanuel Chinanzvana, who is a councillor for Ward 25 in
Zvimba South.
3. Fidelis Chiramba, Zvimba South district chairperson, who stood as an MDC
senatorial candidate for Zvimba in the March 29 elections.
4. Ernest Mudimu, MDC parliamentary candidate for Zvimba North in the March
29 elections.
5. Fanwell Tembo, MDC Zvimba South youth organiser.
6. Terry Musona, MDC deputy provincial secretary.
7. Lloyd Tarumbwa, MDC activist.
8. Violet Mupfuranhehwe, wife to MDC Zvimba South youth chairperson - Collen
9. Collen Mutemagawo, MDC Zvimba South youth chairperson.
10. A two year-old child belonging to Mupfuranhehwe and Mutemagawo.
11. Pieat Kaseke, MDC activist.
12. Gwenzi Kahiya, MDC activist.
13. Tawanda Bvumo, MDC activist from Chitungwiza.
14. Agrippa Kakonda, MDC activist.
15. Larry Gaka, MDC activist.

More Zimbabweans need to speak out against the atrocities taking place.  A
two year old child has been missing for the past month, yet where is the
international condemnation of this act?

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16 Zimbabwe soldiers held over looting, violence

HARARE (AFP) - Police in Zimbabwe said 16 Zimbabwe soldiers were being
detained and interrogated over a recent spate of violence and looting in and
around Harare, according to the state-run media.

Six of the soldiers were part of a group of 15 that beat up members of the
public, looted shops and assaulted riot police last week, police spokesman
Wayne Bvudzijena said, The Herald reported.

The other 10 were detained over the looting of shops on Monday in Harare, he

"Since we launched a joint investigation, which includes the military and
the police, to look into what has happened, we have picked up 30 soldiers
and screened them, leaving the 10 we have an interest in," Bvudzijena said.

The Herald reported that rogue soldiers had gone on the rampage between
Thursday last week and Monday this week, beating up illegal foreign currency
dealers and looting shops in the city centre, and in Mbare and Chitungwiza.

The government has vowed to punish the troops involved in the rampage.

Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi told reporters on Tuesday that the
military was investigating looting carried out by "unruly" the soldiers and
promised the culprits would be punished.

"During the last five days, Harare experienced disturbances by a few unruly
elements from the defence forces," he said.

"As a result, a number of properties were damaged, innocent people injured,
money and property stolen," he added.

"Measures are being taken that this will not happen again. These incidents
are being investigated and those culpable would be brought to book."

Several shops were looted and witnesses accused soldiers of having carried
off goods.

The state-run Herald newspaper and The Star newspaper in South Africa
Wednesday published pictures of uniformed soldiers apparently looting shops
and taking goods away. Police were called to break up the riot.

The army has denied approving the attack on foreign currency dealers, who
provide an illegal but essential service in a country where local bank notes
lose value by the hour.

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"A hungry and angry soldier can be very dangerous"

Photo: Kubatana
Trying times
HARARE, 4 December 2008 (IRIN) - Robert Charamba (not his real name) is a soldier in the Zimbabwe National Army. He was not among the soldiers who recently rampaged through the capital, Harare, because he was in the border town of Beitbridge visiting his wife, a cross-border trader.

"But if I had been around I would have joined my colleagues, because I understand colleagues who mugged and robbed foreign currency traders made enough money to see them into next year.

"It is very difficult to say exactly what forces are at play, but in a crisis situation such as we have, it is possible for some people to manipulate people and events. 

"On the eve of the nationwide demonstrations against money shortages, [held on Wednesday 3 December] officials from the Reserve Bank [of Zimbabwe] visited all military barracks with truckloads of money and doled out Z$15 million [US$8] to all soldiers. I don't know how long they can go on paying money to calm restive soldiers.

"The soldiers are angry and restive. The generals are the only ones who are happy under this government. They have farms, get free food meant for soldiers which they divert to the parallel market; they receive free fuel and have several official cars, while the soldiers have to do without food and a decent uniform.

"Because of the nature of our job, which is different to that of police officers, we cannot solicit for bribes. Police officers are mounting 'private' roadblocks where they demand bribes as a way of supplementing their income. The only route open to soldiers is brazenly grabbing from the civilians.

"There is a facility under which soldiers are supposed to withdraw all their monthly salaries through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, but the senior officers take that money and order us to go and queue like the rest of the population.

"The [Reserve Bank] governor [Gideon Gono] has presided over a chaotic period in the banking sector, and the feeling among soldiers is that a new person with fresh and innovative ideas should have been appointed. [Gono was recently reappointed for another five-year term by President Robert Mugabe].

"As far as we know, Gono is sending the local currency onto the parallel market in order to buy US dollars for himself and the ruling elite.

"So, when soldiers can't get money from the bank, where it should be, they naturally follow it to the parallel market, where the dealers are awash with freshly minted bank notes.

"We are human like everybody, and we have families which need to be fed, clothed, housed and educated. And when we can't get money from the normal places, like everybody is doing in Zimbabwe, we make a plan and unfortunately that is the chaotic route.

"Remember, a hungry man is an angry man, and a hungry and angry soldier can be very dangerous."


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

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Kenya's Prime Minister calls on African leaders to oust Mugabe

By Alex Bell
04 December 2008

In the strongest indication yet that African leaders are finally turning
their backs on Robert Mugabe and his murderous regime, Kenya's Prime
Minister Raila Odinga on Thursday said it was time for African governments
to oust the ageing dictator.

Mugabe's steel grip on power has seen the once prosperous country
deteriorate into chaos. Zimbabwe's economy and social systems have
collapsed, and it is becoming daily more clear that serious and immediate
intervention is needed to spare thousands more lives in a country ravaged by

Thousands of Zimbabweans have already died in what has become a physical
battle to survive, with a desperate food crisis and critical cholera
outbreak threatening to kill off genocidal numbers of the public. Combined,
imminent starvation and a disease that is out of control are threatening the
lives of half the country's population. The UN has warned that up to 5
million people face starvation by January, while international medical
assistance organisation, Doctors Without Borders, says 1.4 million people
are already threatened by cholera.

At the same time, the country's local currency has completely crashed under
the severe weight of hyper inflation that experts say is unofficially over
five quintillion percent. Daily cash withdrawal limits have not been enough
to buy so much as a loaf of bread, meaning those Zimbabweans with money in
the bank have spent days in bank queues trying to withdraw enough money to
barely survive. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe this week announced that the
daily limit will increase to Z$100 million per week, but the announcement
came too late to prevent what appeared to be a mutiny by uniformed
soldiers - who expressed their anger, over not accessing their money, on
foreign exchange peddlers and traders.

And while Zimbabwe sinks deeper into a pit of destruction, Mugabe has
refused to live up to the signed promise of a unity government that was
lauded as the end to the country's combined crises.

After a meeting with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Prime Minister Odinga on
Thursday said that power-sharing in Zimbabwe is 'dead' and "will not work
with a dictator who does not really believe in power-sharing." Odinga told
UK news agency the BBC that if Mugabe were totally isolated, he would have
no choice but to quit as President.

"Therefore it's time for African governments to take decisive action to push
him out of power," said Odinga.

Odinga's comments have been reported as a signal of the 'ramping up' of
pressure against Mugabe, but doubts have also been raised about the Prime
Minister's ability to translate his comments into action. Human rights
activist and chair of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Elinor Sisulu,
explained on Thursday that while Odinga has in the past made similar strong
statements against Mugabe, "there has never been a strong response from
other leaders, only a negative response from Mugabe himself."

Sisulu said the "stumbling block" in the way of action from African leaders
was the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the meditation
efforts of former South African President Thabo Mbeki. She argued that an
independent mediator would be crucial if Odinga's call falls of deaf ears.

Meanwhile South Africa's government has called an urgent ministerial meeting
on the food and health crisis in Zimbabwe. Government spokesman Themba
Maseko on Thursday said South Africa and SADC could not just stand by and do
nothing when "people are beginning to die of starvation." President Kgalema
Motlanthe is expected to meet with ministers to look at how South Africa
could work with neighbouring countries, donors and aid agencies to address
"the urgent need for food and other humanitarian needs," Maseko said.

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MDC secretary for Welfare kicked out of meeting

Thursday, 04 December 2008
HARARE - Yesterday the Minister of Health, David Parirenyatwa hosted a
meeting for NGO's and stakeholders at the now closed down Parirenyatwa
Hospital, to discuss the Health Crisis in Zimbabwe.

The Secretary for Health, MDC was represented by Kerry Kay, Secretary
for Welfare MDC.  On arrival she was greeted warmly by Dr. Parirenyatwa and
his deputy Mr. Muguti.  However, half an hour later after the visitors
register was signed she was called outside by a representative of the
Foreign Affairs office and asked to leave the meeting.  The reason given was
that she was not formally invited by the Foreign Affairs Protocol office.

Mrs Kay spoke to Dr. Parirenyatwa and told him she felt that it was
time to set aside political differences, that MDC and Zanu were supposed to
be partners in a new government, and above all, the welfare of the people of
Zimbabwe was paramount and she was committed to working together.

The decision was that she could not attend the meeting.  It is
interesting that there were two other people known to Mrs. Kay who were not
formally invited but they were not asked to leave.

The commitment to inclusivity is obviously not on Zanu PF's agenda,
nor is the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe.

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Zimbabwe troops on streets as cash limits ease
December 4, 2008 -- Updated 0847 GMT (1647 HKT)

(CNN) -- Armored cars patrolled the streets of Zimbabwe's capital and residents flocked to banks Thursday after limits on cash withdrawals were lifted in the inflation-ravaged African nation.

With prices rising even more than once a day, shopping is a mathematical proficiency test for Zimbabweans.

With prices rising even more than once a day, shopping is a mathematical proficiency test for Zimbabweans.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had capped maximum daily withdrawals at 500,000 Zimbabwean dollars -- about 25 U.S. cents, and about a quarter of the price of a loaf of bread. But faced with mounting chaos in a country already in economic free fall, the bank decided last week to raise that limit to 100 million dollars ($50 U.S.) per week.

Soldiers were deployed to all banks in anticipation of throngs of people lining up to withdraw money Thursday, when the increase took effect. Wednesday, police chased depositors away and arrested union leaders who planned to protest the limits.

Zimbabwe's inflation rate of 231 million percent is the world's highest. In addition, the country is faced with a growing outbreak of cholera that its government declared a national emergency Thursday.

The outbreak has killed at least 565 people and sickened more than 11,000, the U.N. Humanitarian Affairs Office said. Medical professionals blame the resurgence of the water-borne disease on the lack of safe water in many parts of the country.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said 69 people were arrested across the country during Wednesday's demonstrations. Amnesty International has demanded to know the whereabouts of human rights activist Jestina Mukoko, whom it said was abducted at dawn Wednesday by armed men in plainclothes posing as police.

And angry, unpaid soldiers clashed with foreign currency exchangers and some civilians Monday, three days after troops who had failed to get cash from their banks looted shops they suspected to be illegally


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New Zimbabwe bank limits trigger surge in prices

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Prices of Zimbabwean products rose sharply on Thursday
while the black market exchange rate tumbled as the market flooded with
Zimbabwe dollars following an increase in bank withdrawal limits, APA
observed here.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe raised the withdrawal limits for individuals on
Thursday from 500,000 Zimbabwe dollars (about US$5 at the official exchange
rate) a day to 100 million Zimdollars (about US$1,000) a week.

Shops in the capital Harare were forced to temporarily close for business to
adjust their prices upward, just hours after banks started dispensing new
higher denomination banknotes and increased withdrawal limits.

The increase in withdrawal limits triggered a stampede which affected shops
that trade in Zimdollars where impulsive buyers had started hoarding the
available products.

There was calm at shops licensed to trade in foreign currency, which
remained opened through the day.

The hike in withdrawal limits also saw the parallel market exchange rate
tumbling from just below two million Zimdollars to one US dollar to more
than 10 million Zimdollars for every American greenback.

Commuter omnibus fares rose in unison with the movements in the black market
exchange rate, with the cost of a single trip in Harare rising from one
million Zimdollars in the morning to four million Zimdollars by the end of
the day.

The official exchange rate is 100,000 Zimdollars for every US dollar.

Zimbabwe already has the world's highest rate of inflation, officially
pegged at more than 230 million percent but estimated to run in trillions by
independent economists.

  JN/tjm/APA 2008-12-04

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Zimbabwe central bank chief blames retailers for inflation

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's central bank chief on Thursday blamed retailers
for the nation's crushing inflation, hours after introducing a 100 million
dollar note in a desperate bid to keep up with runaway prices.

"The Reserve Bank also appeals to sellers of goods and services to please
have a heart and protect the interest of consumers," Gideon Gono said at a
news conference.

"We have noted sadly that almost every time new currency denominations are
introduced or when workers earnings are introduced, prices are increased

"As central bank, we condemn such practices in the strongest terms."

On Thursday, Gono introduced a raft of new denominations, including 100
million, 50 million and 10 million dollars. The largest bill is worth only
about 14 US dollars, and its value erodes by the day.

This year alone, Gono has introduced 27 new currency denominations, but
still cannot print money fast enough to keep pace with the world's highest
inflation rate, last estimated at 231 million percent in July.

Depositors spend hours in long queues at banks and cash dispensers to
withdraw money, but in many cases fail to receive any due to a shortage of
bank notes.

After meeting with union leaders Thursday, Gono said that he would raise the
cash withdrawal limits from 100 million Zimbabwe dollars a week to 500

Once described as a model economy and a regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe's
economy has collapsed over the past decade and there are now shortages of
basic foodstuffs like sugar and cooking oil.

When Gono was appointed in November 2003, inflation was at 619.50 percent.
Despite the ever-worsening economy, President Robert Mugabe appointed him to
a new five-year term last week.

Meanwhile, Gono said he had dissolved the entire board of CFX bank and
dismissed all the top management after it was leaked that the bank had
off-loaded 260 billion Zimbabwe dollars of the new currency to buy foreign
exchange one day before the notes were legal tender.

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Zimbabweans Jostle For Cash

HARARE, December 4 2008  - Zimbabweans on Thursday jostled to receive
Zd 100 million from commercial banks with most having slept outside.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Gideon Gono upped the withdrawal limit
to Zd 100 million weekly for individuals and Zd 50 million weekly for

Before the, withdrawal limit was Zd 500 000, which was hardly enough
to buy a loaf of bread. The 100 million, is less than 50 USD.

This increase follows a rampage in the streets of Harare by soldiers
who turned riotous demanding their money from banks. On Thursday there was
trouble at the Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) with soldiers wanting to
withdraw their Zd100 million. There was also trouble at First Banking
Corporation Limited and Central African Building Society (CABS).

A RadioVOP survey conducted from midnight Wednesday to 8 am Thursday
showed that First Street in Harare was full of people who had spent the
night on the streets waiting for banks to open.

At midnight some banks began dishing out the Zd 100 million notes from
their ATMs.

The rates have shot up from Zd 1,9 million for the US dollar to more
than Zd 5 million for the greenback.

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Cholera impact in Beitbridge, Zimbabwe
December 04, 2008

Patients were first placed inside Beitbridge's main hospital, most lying on the cement floors in poor hygienic conditions. With only one or two cleaners available, it was impossible to manage the sanitary needs and decontaminate the ward.
On Friday, November 14, when the Zimbabwean health authorities in Beitbridge first reported cholera to MSF, there were five cases. Two days later, there were already more than 500. By the end of the week, over 1,500.
The town of Beitbridge is a shifting tide of migrants, truckers, sex workers, unaccompanied children and desperate people trying to find a better life – mostly by attempting to cross the border into South Africa. With the current political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe, basic services are lacking, especially in a town with such uncontrolled growth. There is rubbish everywhere. Open sewage runs through most of Beitbridges' streets. Almost everyday, there are cuts to water and electricity.

"I am feeling a little uncomfortable," Henry said, quietly. He is a middle-aged gentleman, lying on a dirty floor, politely looking up at Clara Chamizo. . Henry is so dehydrated his cheeks are completely sucked in and his eyes stand out in his skull.

Chamizo, a nurse with the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) project in Beitbridge, Zimbabwe, sees the absurdity of this statement. She is standing in the middle of tens of cholera patients, on the dirt in the backyard of the main hospital. Cholera has overwhelmed this border town of about 40,000 like wildfire.

"Normally cholera starts with a few cases and then we have the peak after a few weeks," explained Luis María Tello, the MSF Emergency Coordinator who arrived a few days after the first cases were reported, and is surprised to see such numbers. Research will confirm later whether people got the cholera from the same source at the same time, as he suspects.

On Friday, November 14, when the Zimbabwean health authorities in Beitbridge first reported cholera to MSF, there were five cases. Two days later, there were already more than 500. By the end of the week, over 1,500.

Patients were first placed inside Beitbridge's main hospital, most lying on the cement floors in poor hygienic conditions. With only one or two cleaners available, it was impossible to manage the sanitary needs and decontaminate the ward. There was also a shortage of proper equipment, chemicals and water – not to mention that all the hospital toilets have been clogged for a long time.

By Sunday morning, the hospital decided to put all the patients out behind the buildings, on the dirt, so that body excretions could be absorbed into the ground.

The sight was appalling. Patients lying in the dry dust in scorching 45ºC heat, all seeking the life-saving drip (Ringer Lactate IV fluid) for their veins. There wasn't even any water to give them since the hospital, like everywhere else in town, had its water supply cut most days.

Veronica Nicola, an Argentinean pediatrician and MSF Project Coordinator who has been on several MSF field assignments, says she never has had to insert so many catheters in one day in her life.

"For me the hardest thing was to be able to concentrate on one person," said Dr. Nicola. "There was a man lying next to one of the trolleys under the sun. By the time I got to him, he was in shock. We tried to get a vein ten times, but then he started gasping and he died right there in front of our eyes."

Nicola paused , and then added, "If I had seen him half an hour before, we might have been able to do something about it. But there were so many people lying there, people calling you. It was very bad." In one week, 54 people died.

The Beitbridge hospital did not have any IV fluid or oral rehydration salt tablets in stock. MSF shipped over 800 litres of Ringer the first day of the intervention, and since then there has been a continuous supply. Twelve shipments of medical and logistical stocks arrived in ten days. A team of 16 international doctors, nurses, logisticians and administrators are in Beitbridge for the outbreak. More than 100 extra health workers, cleaners, daily workers have been hired locally.

In three days, a cholera treatment centre was set up with 130 specialized beds that have a hole in the middle, under which a bucket is placed to catch the flowing diarrhea.

Once the cholera bacteria enter the body, they release a toxin which causes the intestine's pumps to suck all the water from the body. The intestine, unable to handle so much water, rejects it and drive the body into a level of severe dehydration that can kill. Infected patients can lose up to 10 litres of fluids in one day and the medical response is give the body enough fluids to survive until the bacteria's own life cycle expires, in usually about five days. Without this, a patient can die within hours of contagion.

The drip is not a cure but a means of survival.


The town of Beitbridge is a shifting tide of migrants, truckers, sex workers, unaccompanied children and desperate people trying to find a better life – mostly by attempting to cross the border into South Africa. With the current political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe, basic services are lacking, especially in a town with such uncontrolled growth. There is rubbish everywhere. Open sewage runs through most of Beitbridges' streets. Almost everyday, there are cuts to water and electricity.

The only real prevention is good hygiene. From the second day of the outbreak, an MSF car with two officers from the Zimbabwean Environmental Health Office (EHO) went around the town to give out information about how to avoid getting cholera.

But public education on hygiene and prevention can be met with hostility. As the MSF car moved slowly through the neighborhoods and the Zimbabwean EHO staff tried to give their speeches through a loudspeaker, angry crowds gathered to shout: "How do you expect us to control cholera when there is no water?! Look at this sewage running here right next to us! Why don't you clean up the garbage in the streets?"

On the main highway that crosses Beitbridge, there is an area where all the truckers stop on their way to the border. Sometimes it can take days to clear the paperwork to cross, so they camp out with passengers and relatives. When the MSF car stops there, the truckers gather around. They are just as angry as the local residents. They point out cesspools where they must wash their hands, and a dusty field next to them covered in human excrement. "Where are we supposed to go?" pleaded one man.

The problems are long-term. The water station does not have the parts to properly repair its pumps. Even if it did, it depends on electricity to pump water from the tower to the city. Electricity depends on a coal mine that has not been paid in over a year and can no longer supply coal. There is no fuel to run the garbage trucks; there is no money to pay salaries for people to collect the garbage. There is no equipment, or supplies, to fix the sewage system, nor money to pay personnel to do it. There are no quick solutions.

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Women Activists Say Government Ignored Cholera Signs

HARARE, December 4 2008 - Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) has
criticised the government of complete mismanagement and deliberate disregard
for the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans by failing to contain the cholera
outbreak, which they said was in the making for several years.

"A key factor in creating a perfect environment for the breeding and
spread of the cholera bacterium has been the neglect of essential services
by the ZANU PF government over the years. ZANU PF rule has brought a decline
in basic standards of living for many years now; but in the months while
Robert Mugabe has clung to power in the face of rejection by the people at
the polls in March this year, the downward spiral has changed into a
precipitous plunge," said WOZA.

The organisation embarked on a research in August this year, when the
first cases of cholera were being reported in Harare and Chitungwiza, in a
bid to expose ordinary citizens living standards in Harare-Chitungwiza and

The survey sampled more than a thousand of the organisation's members
from Bulawayo, Harare and Chitungwiza, all dependent on their respective
councils for water.

"Thirty-one percent stated that they usually get their water from a
council tap inside their house, while 62 percent use a council tap outside
their house; 5 percent use a public tap, and 1 percent a borehole. Fifty
percent use a borehole sometimes (mainly in Bulawayo where many boreholes
were drilled in response to recurring drought conditions in previous
years) - suggesting that half are forced to use a borehole when the water is
not flowing in the tap. Ninety seven percent stated that they have
experienced water cuts, with 60 percent having gone for a week or more
without water. This masks some who have gone for much longer, many for weeks
and months," said WOZA.

The organisation indicated that of those surveyed, only 6 percent said
they usually had access to clean water, while 77 percent sometimes had such
access, and 16 percent never did.

"The other serious implication of failing water supplies is the
dysfunction of the sanitation and sewage system. Eighty eight percent of the
respondents stated that they depend on flush toilets with, on average, 9,8
people using each toilet. Five percent use a pit latrine and four percent a
Blair toilet. When the water is cut off for days or weeks at a time, toilets
do not function. Even when the water is on, the frequency of cuts means that
the pipes have become clogged, resulting in many leaks and breaks, with
sewage flowing all over.

"At a recent meeting, WOZA members painted a graphic picture of daily
realities in some areas. Recent heavy rains have carried faeces and waste
matter from overflowing sewers right into houses. Women then have to remove
maggots, which live in the sewage, along with solid faecal stools. They try
to block the flow of sewage into their homes but because the rains were
heavy this has been unsuccessful. Sometimes if someone upstream is trying to
unblock their drain, the sewage backs up into the toilets and the bowls
overflow into the houses. To stop the raw sewage flow, members have had to
adopt the strategy of putting rocks and sand on top of the sewer covers to
prevent the flow of solid matter. But even if they succeed, they still have
to cope with the stinking water, which seeps out," said WOZA.

The organisation noted that in spite of massive failures in provision
of clean water and functioning sewerage, residents continue to be billed for
the "service."

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Rescue cholera victims, not Mugabe, says activist

Article published on the 2008-12-04 Latest update 2008-12-04 18:00 TU

As foreign countries helping the thousands of victims of Zimbabwe's cholera
epidemic, Zimbabwean rights activist John Stewart is calling for the people
to be rescued .. without rescuing President Robert Mugabe rule over the
crisis-hit country. On a visit to Paris, he spoke to RFI about how the
epidemic could change the way the world views Zimbabwe.

"Conditions for aid need to be set," says Stewart, who has been invited to
Paris to meet French non-governmental organisations. "The difference is that
the conditions of political change are very large-scale issues ... so it's
hard to see an immediate change on the international community's positions."

Stewart believes it would be hard to impose conditions, especially in terms
of trying to iron out the current political crisis, but he says that  that
the cholera outbreak, which is spreading to neighbouring countries, could be
a catalyst for change.

South Africa is now affected by cholera; the virus has been found even in
the Limpopo River, and its own residents have also been affected.

"In fact...[it] is the beginning of a new political understanding of
Zimbabwe, different in fact from [former South African president] Thabo
Mbeki's understanding, which was that Mugabe would negotiate in good faith,
that he had some legitimacy," says Stewart. "What seems to be the beginning
of a political consensus coming from Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya is that
Mugabe and his government is not legitimate, is not competent."

And on Thursday, South Africa called an urgent meeting to discuss the crisis
in Zimbabwe, motivated by reports that the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) could not just stand by and do nothing.

"We are going to see many more people dying of cholera this year than people
dying of political violence," says Stewart.

But he also spoke about the apprent abduction of top human rights activist
Jestina Mukoko.

"We think it's quite likely that these are the people who kill opponents of
the government," he says.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Zimbabwe "a failed state" on
Thursday, but pledged to boost aid to tackle the cholera emergency. He did
not specify the amount.

Interview: John Stewart, of Zimbabwe's Human Rights Forum

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Cholera interview - transcript - radio 702

3 December 2008 
Chris Gibbons:  Well as Zimbabwe cholera epidemic spreads so too does fear across the border south. We have a number of cases already in hospital in Musina the authorities in Limpopo have moved to allay concerns about that town drinking water saying it is still safe. Micel Schnehager is tracking the story and she’s with us now from Johannesburg.
Micel, good afternoon. Most important I guess is what the situation is like up on the border and in Musina itself?
Micel:   There is concern with respect to the farms along border that the cholera could spread to the crops. They say that farm workers who might have the bacterial disease could pass it on to the crops and this could obviously be dangerous. The farmers are also using water from the Limpopo to irrigate the crops and there is great concern about that. But to my understanding they have embarked on a massive educational programme to inform people on how to prevent cholera and also to tell them not to eat fish from the Limpopo river which is also cause of concern. The outbreak is mostly in the Madinga village, which is about a 110 kilometres east of Musina.
Chris: Now in Zimbabwe itself, Beitbridge we know has had major problems, Harare of course the water supply was cut off there yesterday, but what’s the picture today? The death toll seems to be rising?
Micel: Definitely if you look at the World Health Organisation report they estimate that 473 people have died so far, but I spoke to Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights yesterday and they estimate that the number is in excess of 1 000. Now this discrepancy appears to be because the official results are drawn from the medical centres where the people are treated and that are where the deaths are recorded. But the doctors say that many of the patients can’t make it to these facilities which are already completely overstretched and a lot of these people are dying in their homes.  So that’s why we don’t have them as official results.
Chris: The Limpopo River: come back there for a second. We know that the cholera is in the water there as you tell us. Anyone crossing or swimming across for example -leave aside the crocodiles – do they run the risk of getting cholera?
Micel: Absolutely.  My sources from Harare tell me that raw sewage is seeping into that river. So anybody crossing the Limpopo stands a very good chance of contracting cholera. And the other thing as well is that lodges and guest houses in the area along the border draw their water from boreholes mainly and they have been encouraged to put water purification tablets into those boreholes.
Chris: That is Micel Schneiger talking to us from our Johannesburg studio.

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Zimbabwe cholera: Mugabe will decimate South Africa as well as Zimbabwe

Michael Trapido

Just over a week ago with sewage flowing in the streets, rubbish piled up in
mounds, a broken water supply and the United Nations warning of a cholera
catastrophe in Zimbabwe the moron who passes himself off as the country's
Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti told the world's media that there was no
need to declare an emergency ; "The situation is under control".

One week later with cholera running wild the same government suggests : ""The
government yesterday [Wednesday] declared the cholera outbreak . and the
malfunctioning of central hospitals as national emergencies and appealed to
the donor community for assistance to alleviate the situation," it said.
"The emergency appeal will help us reduce the morbidity and mortality
associated with the current socio-economic environment," Health Minister
David Parirenyatwa told a meeting of aid groups, the newspaper reported.
"Our central hospitals are literally not functioning. Our staff is
demotivated and we need your support to ensure that they start coming to
work and our health system is revived," he added. (AFP/Reuters)

As most of you who have been following this debacle will recall, initially
Mugabe's geniuses had tried to conceal the cholera outbreak. This meant that
the citizens of that country were not only unaware of the danger which meant
they never took steps to avoid it but just as important, were in the dark as
to how to deal with a disease that kills its victims within 10-12 hours if
not treated.

By concealing the danger Mugabe endangered not only the people of Zimbabwe
but the entire region the results of which we are now witnessing in South

The depth of irresponsibility by Mugabe and his clowns once again simply

Today we find Health Minister (by his mother maybe) David Parirenyatwa
telling the world how desperate the situation is. Where was he a week ago
when Muguti was telling us how everything was hunky dory? Where was he when
South Africa's Health Minister Barbara Hogan dismissed Muguti's nonsense?
Where was he when Morgan Tsvangirai claimed that cholera was the biggest
crisis in Zimbabwe?

While the collapse of law and order in Somalia is yielding piracy which can
be localised. Zimbabwe's collapse is occasioning a stampede of desperately
ill and starving people who have no alternative but to cross our borders
bringing with them all that ails what was once a prosperous country.

Mugabe and the Zanu-PF meanwhile have committed all their resources to
protecting Mugabe and the Zanu-PF. Printing more money, using elite soldiers
to police soldiers who are starting to rebel, crushing protests, seizing
land and attending meetings to explain why they will never concede power.

While they are doing this the SADC, U.N and aid agencies have to look after
the people of Zimbabwe.

During xenophobia I went into the townships of South Africa and I spoke to
residents ad nauseum. Their grievances were real - Millions of refugees,
unregulated, pouring into their communities, bribing housing officials so
they could get houses before locals, erecting shacks outside their homes
overnight, desperados increasing violent crime exponentially, taking their
jobs and on and on.

When the government called those who vented their frustations criminals I
tore into the president and ministers concerned - criminals may have jumped
on the bandwagon but the vast majority of people protesting were our
ordinary poorer citizens with real grievances which were not being
addressed. I also warned of the dangers of failing to heed their call and
addressing their problems.

Polokwane was definitely a result of the grievances of our poorer community
not being dealt with.

If the South African government does not take urgent steps to intervene in
Zimbabwe then this second, deadly wave of refugees is going to visit upon
them a crisis of monumental proportions.

If you think back even Jacob Zuma battled to calm residents during
xenophobia while many ministers failed to turn up at meetings rather than
face these angry mobs. If Zimbabwe is allowed to continue to export death
and hardship unchecked to its neighbours the anger we witnessed during
xenophobia and Polokwane is going to be a picnic.

Even our poor have limits to the garbage they will endure.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 4th, 2008 at 9:43 am

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UK Govt boosts aid to help 'failed state' Zimbabwe: PM

LONDON (AFP) - The govenment announced 10 million pounds of emergency aid to
help tackle Zimbabwe's cholera crisis Thursday, while denouncing President
Robert Mugabe as leader of a "failed state."

The pledge came as Zimbabwe pleaded for international help after declaring
the epidemic that has killed over 560 people a national emergency, and
admitted that hospitals are no longer working.

"Mugabe's failed state is no longer willing or capable of protecting its
people. Thousands are stricken with cholera, and must be helped urgently,"
said Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose country is the former colonial power
in Zimbabwe.

"The international community's differences with Mugabe will not prevent us
doing so -- we are increasing our development aid, and calling on others to
follow suit."

And he added: "For once we agree with the government of Zimbabwe -- this is
a national emergency."

Britain is a fierce critic of Mugabe's leadership, calling it a "criminal
cabal." British aid to Zimbabweans is channelled through non-governmental
bodies rather than Mugabe's regime.

The Department for International Development was making available a
10-million-pound package of support to provide life saving assistance and
respond to the escalation of cholera.

"Sadly, we anticipated the cholera problem and funded UNICEF to preposition
supplies and medicines," a Foreign Office spokeswoman told AFP.

"We have now accelerated our response and have pulled together a
10-million-pound support package of direct responses to the epidemic itself
and a major boost to essential medicines and drugs to help keep people alive
through this crisis."

The Zimbabwe government and doctors say hospitals need medicines and
equipment to keep health care centres going and even money to pay salaries
and water treatment chemicals as the country's economic crisis bites ever

Cholera is the latest challenge to hit poverty-wracked Zimbabwe as it
struggles with a political crisis and hyperinflation estimated at 231
million percent in July.

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A Communiqué from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)

Thursday, 04 December 2008
A Communiqué from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)

Declaring a Health Emergency is Not Enough!
In memory of Julia Chapeyama and Thembelani Lunga


The outbreak of cholera in epidemic proportions has brought Zimbabwe
back to the attention of the region and the world. Zimbabwe's complex
emergency, which is now causing so much uffering, taking lives and breaking
the society apart at its seams, has been several years in the making. A key
factor in creating a perfect environment for the breeding and spread of the
cholera bacterium has been the neglect of essential services by the ZANU PF
government over the years. But this has only been one effect of complete
mismanagement and deliberate disregard for the lives of ordinary

ZANU PF rule has brought a decline in basic standards of living for
many years now; but in the months while Robert Mugabe has clung to power in
the face of rejection by the people at the polls in March this year, the
downward spiral has changed into a precipitous plunge.
In August this year, just when the first cases of cholera were being
reported in Harare and Chitungwiza, WOZA undertook research designed to
present a picture of the living standards of our members in
Harare-Chitungwiza and Bulawayo. Some of the results of that study are now
available, and present a stark demonstration of the circumstances, which
have provided the backdrop for the cholera epidemic.

Water and Sanitation
Cholera thrives where there is inadequate provision for sanitation and
inadequate supplies of pure water for household use such as drinking,
cooking and bathing. The germs breed in human faeces and are spread through
ingestion, when contaminated water or foods are used. Thus, it spreads
easily where a sewage system is not functioning and raw sewage is present,
or people are forced to defecate on the ground when toilets are blocked. The
absence of purified water has also become a critical factor in the spread of
cholera in the urban areas of Zimbabwe.
The results of WOZA's survey highlight all of these problems in
relation to water and sewage. The survey sampled just over 1,000 of WOZA's
members from Bulawayo, Harare and Chitungwiza. Of these, virtually all
depend on their city council for water. 31% stated that they usually get
their water from a council tap inside their house, while 62% use a council
tap outside their house; 5% use a public tap, and 1% a borehole. 50% use a
borehole sometimes (mainly in Bulawayo where many boreholes were drilled in
response to recurring drought conditions in previous years) - suggesting
that half are forced to use a borehole when the water is not flowing in the
tap. 97% stated that they have experienced water cuts, with 60% having gone
for a week or more without water. This masks some who have gone for much
longer, many for weeks and months.
Of those surveyed, only 6% said they usually had access to clean
water, while 77% sometimes had such access, and 16% never did. Obviously,
during the time of water cuts residents are at serious risk as they seek
water from sources other than their taps. However, what is not clear from
the statistics, because residents cannot know the facts from day to day, is
that even when water is present, it has rarely been treated with all the
chemicals required to make it safe.
The other serious implication of failing water supplies is the
dysfunction of the sanitation and sewage system. 88% of the respondents
stated that they depend on flush toilets with, on average, 9.8 people using
each toilet. 5% use a pit latrine and 4% a Blair toilet. When the water is
cut off for days or weeks at a time, toilets do not function. Even when the
water is on, the frequency of cuts means that the pipes have become clogged,
resulting in many leaks and breaks, with sewage flowing all over. 11% of the
respondents indicated that they had experienced burst sewers, which took
more than six months to repair, while 23% had waited more than a month for
repairs. When toilets are not working, people begin to use the bushy areas
between residential suburbs as a toilet, with all that implies for
attraction of flies and spread of any germs, including cholera. Such
practices also have security implications as a teenage WOZA member was
recently raped in Bulawayo whilst using the bush as a toilet.
In August, when the survey was conducted, 20% already reported cholera
or some other form or
diarrhoeal infection had affected their families during sewer bursts.
Heavy rain, which began only in 2 November, takes the human waste both over
the ground and down to the underground water table while many people are
looking for useable water in shallow wells; it then becomes clear that
contaminated water is the norm.
At a recent meeting, WOZA members painted a graphic picture of daily
realities in some areas. Recent heavy rains have carried faeces and waste
matter from overflowing sewers right into houses. Women then have to remove
maggots, which live in the sewage, along with solid faecal stools. They try
to block the flow of sewage into their homes but because the rains were
heavy this has been unsuccessful.
Sometimes if someone upstream is trying to unblock their drain, the
sewage backs up into the toilets and the bowls overflow into the houses. To
stop the raw sewage flow, members have had to adopt the strategy of putting
rocks and sand on top of the sewer covers to prevent the flow of solid
matter. But even if they succeed, they still have to cope with the stinking
water, which seeps out.
In spite of massive failures in provision of clean water and
functioning sewerage, residents continue to be billed for the "service."
Many council workers are asking for payment in rand currency. Some who have
left employment because council could not pay them decent salaries are said
to have helped themselves to the long rods used to clear blockages, leading
to long delays in carrying out repairs.
As if the problems of water and sewage were not enough, garbage also
becomes another breeding ground for disease. 93% of the respondents stated
that they lived in areas where the council was expected to collect rubbish;
in fact the payment for rubbish collection is normally included in the rates
bill. But over the past six months very few had experienced any rubbish
collection, and have had to find a way of disposing of it themselves. 43%
stated that they dumped their rubbish, only 11% created a rubbish pit, while
45% burned their rubbish, leaving of course the residue, which cannot be
burned. It is thus hardly surprising that mounds of garbage are found
throughout the high-density areas, breeding grounds for all sorts of disease
carriers including rats and mosquitoes. The acrid smoke from burning garbage
hangs over the streets, causing breathing difficulties for the many
inhabitants suffering from asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Access to Food
What type of diet do Zimbabweans in these circumstances manage to
access? The women answering the questionnaire were asked to indicate what
foodstuffs they had purchased within the preceding two weeks. 93% responded
that they had purchased vegetables (generally leafy green vegetables - rape
or choumoullier, spinach or sometimes cabbage) demonstrating the important
role that vegetables play in providing nutrition. Only 67% had purchased
mealie (maize) meal, while the others had doubtless a supply of mealie meal
from before the two weeks. Only 8% had purchased rice, an alternative staple
to mealie meal, but clearly now an unattainable luxury for most households.
Only 13% had purchased milk or amasi (sour milk eaten with sadza), 12% meat
or chicken, 5% eggs, 19% beans, 27% kapenta and 22% soya chunks (a
protein-rich meat substitute). The last three items, then, provide the
majority of the protein input to diets, but clearly many households are
going without. 65% managed to buy soap, but only 9% bought toilet paper
(presumably using newspaper which further clogs pipes) and only 8% bought
pads or cotton wool used for sanitary needs. The absence of anything except
the bare necessities is reflected in the purchases of drinks or mazoe orange
(5%), beer or chibuku (opaque beer) (1%) cigarettes or snuff, a form of
tobacco, which is inhaled (2%).
In all areas of the country, food, if available, is now sold in
foreign currency. Those without access to it rely on barter trade. Some WOZA
members have resorted to bartering firewood for essential items - one bundle
of firewood fetching a single plate of mealie meal or a quarter of bar of
Recently two young children (siblings), aged eight and nine-years old,
from Robert Sinyoka, a peri-urban area on the outskirts of Bulawayo, starved
to death after trying to survive on a form of maize gruel (created by
boiling the husks and sweepings of ground maize). It is not nutritious and
much of the husk is not digestible. Other members in Robert Sinyoka
testified to trying to survive on wild fruits.
Despite the evident starvation, WOZA members, along with members of
the opposition parties, cannot access food aid being distributed by
humanitarian organisations because ZANU PF civil servants have a
stranglehold on distribution points. Only 13% of the respondents had
received any food aid since the 3 year 2000. WOZA has thus found that
humanitarian organisations have not been able to assist our
members - and so despite their courageous defiance, they are starving.
Even purchase can be
problematic if one does not belong to the ruling party. A massive 49%
said they had been prevented from buying food at some time because they were
not members of ZANU PF, as youth militia or war veterans often man queues at
shops selling scarce commodities.

Health Services
This is the context in which Zimbabwe's health system has experienced
a virtual total collapse. The conditions are ripe for the spread of
diseases, most of which are treatable, but the government and local council
health services are not available. While private medical services still
function for those who can afford to pay, very few of the women surveyed
ever use private doctors.
The women were asked what they do when they or a member of their
family falls ill. 77% reported that they never see a private doctor, 18%
sometimes do, and only 5% usually do. 46% usually rely on their own
treatment, and 36% use a council clinic. The rest usually see a religious
healer (14%) or a traditional healer (3%). Considering the fact that the
majority of council clinics are at the time of writing (December) either
closed or functioning only with skeletal staff and no medicines or
equipment, it can be clearly seen how vulnerable the population is. For
example, Budiriro Clinic in Harare is the only clinic still open in the area
and therefore has to service seven large suburbs, each of which previously
had its own clinic. In fact only that 5% who usually consult a private
doctor would be likely to receive adequate treatment. But in the early
stages of the epidemic, those not recognizing the seriousness of the disease
and relying on their own treatment or even the nearest clinic, religious
healer or traditional healer, were at high risk of losing their lives. The
fact is that the figures show that even when the clinics were still open in
August, only just over a third of residents went to them as their first port
of call - either because
they could not get treatment there or because they could not afford to
pay the fee charged.
Corruption in the health sector is also commonplace. Many areas in
Harare and Bulawayo report that their local clinic dispensaries are refusing
to give medication and Anti-Retroviral (ARV) tablets even to those who are
long term customers. Clinic staff are said to whisper to people to go
'outside' to purchase from an appointed person in foreign currency. A member
from Matshobana in Bulawayo testified that she was directed to the private
home of a doctor to buy ARVs after a tip-off from a nurse at a clinic.
Water purification tablets are also being sold at inflated prices
'outside'. Even the plastic packets that tablets are put in are sold
Another member in Bulawayo whose relative is seriously ill and
survives on drip infusions described her problems in getting drips fitted.
Her relative was recently admitted to hospital and four drips were needed.
After the drips were bought in foreign currency and the family had paid to
have her attended to, nothing happened until someone whispered that if they
wanted to be attended they had to go and pay again 'outside' in forex, which
they did, and were given another receipt with a stamp but no amount
reflected. Despite paying for four drips, every time a new drip was fitted
they had to pay again because a different nurse was on duty.
The collapse of essential services is a direct result of the
deliberate manipulation of the economy by the ZANU PF government, the
attempt to claim control of local government services in spite of the
incompetence and unwillingness of central government to handle them, and
corruption inspired by greed. Resources needed for these services were
diverted through various criminal activities for the benefit of cronies.
Local councils in the hands of the opposition were deliberately starved of
funds by refusing to allow them to raise tariffs sufficiently to meet
requirements in a time of hyperinflation. The level of corruption and
incompetence goes beyond simple neglect on the part of government - it
reflects at a minimum criminal negligence and at worst planned genocide.

In recent weeks, two WOZA leaders have passed away - victims of a
humanitarian crisis that could have been avoided. Julia Chipeyama (44) died
from cholera in Harare whilst another life cut short was that of Bulawayo
leader Thembelani Lunga, a 32-year-old mother of two who was the breadwinner
of an extended family. She was HIV positive and constantly had problems
accessing a regular supply of 4 ARVs. She was also denied these during a
four-day incarceration at Bulawayo Central Police Station in August 2008.
WOZA women form a cross-section of the dwellers of Zimbabwe's
high-density residential areas. Their experiences are those of average
Zimbabweans. The attention of the world is focused on the spread of cholera,
which results from these conditions. What has not been adequately described
is the daily struggle to find water, to deal with sewage and garbage, to buy
sufficient food, and to handle illness when it strikes. The deaths from
cholera are just those from one very dangerous and rapidly spreading
infection. To them must be added the pregnant women turned away from
hospitals who go home to deliver, and die from want of a simple caesarian
section operation, those whose insulin has run out, the appendicitis cases,
the asthma attacks, bleeding ulcers, septicemia, - all treatable conditions
from which thousands of deaths are now occurring. And this does not include
those with kidney failure, who cannot be dialysed, those needing
chemotherapy, even a simple plaster cast on a limb, or treatment for a
wound. In September an eight-year old boy in Bulawayo fell in his schoolyard
and twisted his knee; a week later he was dead. The death certificate cited
cause of death as "swollen knee". The family could
not afford to pay for an autopsy, so no one knows the medical cause of
death. But the real cause of death is clear - criminal negligence of the
worst kind on the part of the ZANU PF government. If the life expectancy of
Zimbabwean women was 34, as reported by the World Health Organisation three
years ago, what must it be today, when our situation is so much worse?

· Zimbabwe is now a "complex emergency", a failed state, without a
functioning government and
with the destruction of the economy, the infrastructure, and social
capital. This requires an immediate political solution and we call on the
international community, and in particular the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU), to act in defense
of the ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe.
· The Ministry of Health has finally declared a national health
emergency but we do not trust them to administer an emergency health
programme efficiently and with integrity. We call on the Ministry to step
aside and allow the World Health Organisation (WHO) to take over all cholera
treatment centers, including the payment of a decent wage to emergency
health workers.
· We call on public health and clinic employees to honestly assist
people and to put a stop to corruption in provision of medicines and bedside
care and in attending to sewerage system repairs.
· We call on city councils to provide support for decent and speedy
burials - Zimbabweans deserve to be buried with dignity.
· We call on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to
initiate plans to resuscitate
the water and sewage reticulation systems, which should be handed
directly to local councils and
not central government for implementation.
· We ask that international humanitarian organizations alter their
food distribution methods to allow easier access by all the needy to food
· To Zimbabweans, we say - take your life into your own hands and help
stop the spread of
cholera. Clean up your areas of rubbish and try to stop the flow of
sewerage. Demand an
audience with local and provincial leaders and immediately report any
corruption by health or
council professionals.
· To ZANU PF - enough lives have been lost to your inability to govern
and care for the nation -
your time is up. Please leave us free to elect leaders who can address
this humanitarian
catastrophe you have created.
The current situation in Zimbabwe cannot be resolved by a corrupt,
incompetent and illegitimate group of rulers who are responsible for
creating this disaster in first place. We need urgent intervention by the
international community operating on the ground independently of any ZANU
PF-controlled government structures.

4th December 2008
For more information, contact Jenni Williams +263 912 898 110/112 or
+263 912 362 668
Or email us at info@wozazimbabwe.orgThis e-mail address is being
protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it /
wozazimbabwe@yahoo.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots,
you need JavaScript enabled to view it or
Appendix - A tribute to Julia Chapeyama
On Saturday 15th November 2008, Julia Chapeyama (44), a leader of
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) was admitted to Budiriro Clinic, which caters
for seven large suburbs of Harare. She was immediately infused with two
drips, which took ten minutes, but her condition did not improve and she
died two hours later. She was laid to rest at Glenville Cemetery on 20th
November 2008. Cemetery officials told members that Julia was one of 34
cholera victims to be buried at that cemetery that day alone. Four female
children, Tatenda, Primrose, Sandra and Cynthia, survive Julia. Sandra was
writing her 'O' Levels when her mother died and Cynthia had just finished
her Grade 7 exams. Julia started to feel sick on the morning of 15th
November with vomiting and diarrhoea. She refused to go to the clinic,
insisting that her daughter, Cynthia, be taken first. Cynthia was admitted
and has since recovered. When the friends who had taken Cynthia to the
hospital returned, they found that Julia's condition had worsened and they
had to rush her to Budiriro Clinic, but she died two hours later.
She was laid to rest on 20th November at Glenville Cemetery. Although
council officials had ordered that no large crowds were allowed at cholera
funerals, Julia's friends and fellow WOZA members paid their respects to her
by attending in a steady stream of small groups that only stayed a short
Julia joined WOZA in 2003 and has been in the leadership structure
since then. Although a quiet person, she was always ready for demonstrations
and capable of mobilizing friends and neighbours. To be a WOZA member, one
must complete a 'Sisterhood Promise' and to become a leader, one has to
prove relevance to their community. Julia proved this to the last as she
nursed members of her structure through their cholera bouts, only to finally
succumb herself.
As we review her loss, we place her untimely death at the hands of
David Parirenyatwa, Minister of Health. If he had been humble and accepted
help from UNICEF when it was first offered, Julia might still be alive
today. We place responsibility for her death also on ZINWA, who took over
water supply from our democratically elected council without our consent.
For over a year, water supply has become worse by the day. But ultimately
the responsibility rests squarely with the entire ZANU PF leadership for the
destruction they have wrought in Zimbabwe.
To Julia, we promise, they will be held accountable for these crimes
against humanity. Her courage and commitment to demand social justice lives
on in our hearts. May her soul rest in peace.

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Civic Groups Demand Immediate Release Of Mukoko

HARARE, December 4 2008 - Zimbabwe 's civic society groups have
appealed to the African Union (AU) and Southern African Development
Community (SADC) to exercise their influence on the Zimbabwe government to
release veteran journalist and human rights activist, Jestina Mukoko, who
was abducted from her home Wednesday morning by suspected state security

"The kidnapping is a blunt mockery of the Global Political Agreement
(GPA) signed by Zimbabwean political parties on the 15th of September and
show the extent of the breakdown of the rule of law and insincerity of state
authorities in Zimbabwe ," said a joint statement from 46 civic bodies.

SADC chairperson President Kgalema Montlanthe of South Africa and
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who is the current AU chairperson are
guarantors of a power sharing pact that was signed by Zanu PF and MDC, on
September 15. Under the agreement, the rival parties unequivocally condemned
political violence in Zimbabwe and pledged to work together against any
fresh incidents of violence.

Mukoko, Zimbabwe Peace Project Director, was reportedly kidnapped at
gun point by about 15 armed men who were driving an unmarked car at about
5am.Her whereabouts are still unknown.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project is a frontline defender of human rights
engaged in monitoring and documenting human rights abuses in Zimbabwe .

There are strong suspicions Mukoko's kidnapping was intended to stop
her from documenting rampant human rights abuses by President Robert Mugabe's

The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) also condemned the kidnapping.

"The continued harassment of journalists and civic society activists
runs contrary to the spirit and letter of the on going political talks and
the global political agreement," said MAZ.

"We urge therefore political parties to the agreement and the
guarantors, SADC and the AU to immediately get to the bottom of the matter
concerning Jestina Mukoko."

The civic groups also demanded the immediate cessation of systematic
purges and human rights violations by government and its security agents on
all human rights defenders in the country.

The civic groups also demanded unconditional prosecution on
perpetrators of human rights who are allegedly committing the acts at the
behest of government.

Meanwhile, the whereabouts of 15 MDC members who were abducted from
their homes by police in Mashonaland West's Banket area early last month are
yet to be established.

Police have ignored high court orders directing them to release the
abducted group.

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The machine creating water out of thin air
By Grace Wong

LONDON, England (CNN) -- As Zimbabwe battles a cholera epidemic that has already killed hundreds, one company thinks it may have found a potential solution to the world water crisis.

A shortage of clean drinking water has unleashed a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe.

A shortage of clean drinking water has unleashed a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe.


Element Four, a small Canadian firm, has applied its water technology to create the WaterMill, a novel electricity-powered machine that draws moisture from the air and purifies it into clean drinkable water.

The compact WaterMill, which goes on sale in the spring, is designed for household use.

More crucially for countries such as Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Element Four is also working on another device, the WaterWall, which could potentially supply an entire village in the developing world.

The team at Element Four shares an ambitious goal: to quench the world's growing thirst for water. Now the 10-person company is taking on a challenge that global multinationals have struggled to meet.

Rick Howard, the CEO of the company, says it was at a U.N. conference on water in New York last summer that he realized just how revolutionary Element Four's technology might be.

"There we were on the same stage as GE, Dow Chemical and Siemens, and it was a complete shock to us when we heard the solutions they were offering. We realized we had something that could effect change," Howard tells CNN.

The WaterMill draws in air through a filter and then cools it into water droplets. This water then passes through a special filter and is exposed to ultraviolet light, which rids it of bacteria.

The product Element Four is designing for the developing world is called the WaterWall and is constructed by taking several of the water-making cells of the consumer appliance and hooking them up in series on a wall.

The U.N., which has declared 2005-2015 the International Decade for Water, expects 1.8 billion people to live in regions with absolute water scarcity by 2025.

It's no wonder then that Element Four is being closely watched by the tech world. The WaterMill is being displayed at the Wired Store in New York, a temporary store the magazine opens every holiday season that showcases the future of technology.

About one in five people in the world lack access to safe drinking water, and shortages pose serious health problems for much of the developing world.

Lack of clean water, coupled with poor sanitation practices, can lead to outbreaks of water-borne diseases, such as cholera and dysentery, which in turn, can cause life-threatening forms of diarrhea. More than 500 people have died in Zimbabwe. Video See more about Zimbabwe's cholera crisis »

Diarrheal disease is the third leading cause of death from infectious diseases, and the majority of those deaths are among children under the age of 5, according to the WHO and UNICEF. Most of those deaths could be prevented if improvements to sanitation and drinking water were made.

But can an invention like the WaterWall really help ease the world's water shortage and help prevent health disasters like the outbreak in Zimbabwe from occurring in the future?

"There are some brilliant inventions out there, but they are expensive and difficult to get hold of," says Paul Jarwor, an emergency water and sanitation consultant with international aid organization Doctors Without Borders.

The WaterMill retails for about $1,300, but Howard estimates that a pared down version -- without the bells and whistle -- for use in places like Africa would cost about $300.

The biggest challenge of a product like the WaterWall, Howard says, is the power consumed by the water-making cells. To counter that, the product is designed to turn on in stages so it doesn't overload fragile power grids.

In comparison to solutions like desalination, which can cost billions of dollars to develop, that's cheap. "For about $300 we can start saving lives. Ours is a very scalable product," Howard says.

But there are skeptics. Frank Lawson, an engineering adviser at international charity WaterAid, said the solution Element Four is devising wouldn't be appropriate for the charity's projects.

For one, the technology doesn't work in very dry climates. The machine only functions at or above about 35 percent relative humidity levels.

Furthermore, it requires an energy source. "Our technologies have to be within the capacity of the benefiting community -- both technically and financially," Lawson says.

WaterAid uses a number of low-cost and sustainable solutions, such as rainwater harvesting and hand-dug wells, to help communities in more than 17 countries access water.

But those solutions depend upon the availability of water in the area, and fresh water supplies worldwide are feeling the squeeze from population growth, pollution and climate change.

Howard admits the company needs to focus on growing its business first, so it may be some time before the Element Four's products make their way to the developing world.

"We quickly came to realize that if we didn't first build a business to perfect the product and application, then we weren't going to be able to get to a point where we could have a significant humanitarian impact," he says.

But Howard and partner Jonathan Ritchey are in various stages of discussions with several humanitarian groups in the field. Howard declined to name the organizations.

It's early, but the company's core principle is "to do good as we do well," he says. "That's part of truly what drives us -- knowing that at some point we will be able to do some significant good."

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Burn for Burns - Mutare General Hospital


To you all. . .

An update is certainly a requirement and I apologize for not getting one out
to you sooner!

As you know we planned a fund raiser for the hospital in the form of a
Mexican evening on the 14 Nov. On Thursday (13th) morning Steph (a wonderful
friend of mine who gave us her restaurant - The Green Cougal - to use as a
venue for free) and I had a marginal panic attack as only 17 of the proposed
100 tickets had been sold. After a very strong coffee we decided that
whatever the outcome we would ensure that the trusty supporters had an
entertaining time (at least there would be plenty of food - which had been
generously donated by the Indian Community of Mutare)

By Friday 2.30pm tables and chairs of an optimistic number had been
delivered and some wonderful 'hands' moved into the venue to decorate and
organize for the evening ahead. We left the band (who played for free - what
a gifted bunch of muzo's) setting up and disappeared to 'scrub up' and
return by 6.30pm with evening due to begin at 7pm.

By 8.30pm concerns were starting to rise as table/chair space was running
out, food could not be served fast enough, both bars were manic and the
incredibly talented band had various folk on the dance floor! By 9.30pm all
raffle tickets were sold and complaints could be heard by a certain
indignant late comer that he wanted tickets and there were none left - for
the first time in my life I watched as this certain gentleman proceeded to
buy 'imaginary tickets'. . . convinced he would win. . . personally I think
it had something to do with the pretty lady at the gate!! The auction then
began, the quick witted auctioneer managed to convince bidders into parting
with extremely generous amounts of money for the extremely generous
donations (thanks to Loraine, Tony, Lynn, Gary, Brett & Kerry, Yogish, Steph
and Malcolm etc etc)

In a nutshell - why did I put God in a box and not have more faith in His
hand in our fund raiser. . . . .?

During the course of the above week, emails were flying between myself and
Johan (Jono) Leach from Waymakers. Through a couple of miraculous events he
had heard about our needs for the hospital. To cut a long story short, Jono
and his fantastic team arrived in Mutare with the most exciting load of
medicines and words of encouragement. Jono put together the load of
medicines that I requested (paid for by your previous donations into the B 4
B's SA account - thank you!) and then Jono rallied around further incredible
donations from folk he is in contact with - all this he loaded into his
'bakkie' and trailer and drove with the load from Cape Town to deliver to
our door step here in Mutare!!! Mindblowing - thank you!

All the above at a time when we have hit an all time low in the hospital. .

Tragedy, heartache, despair and desperation reign. . .

* the kitchen is locked and supplied food ceases
* ill patients in desperate need of medical care are discharged to have
"home based care"
* wards slowly begin to close as the hospital can only admit those that are
* nurses that come to work have to walk for miles as the US$0.25 that they
can draw from the bank daily is not enough to cover bus fares - one way!
* furthermore the nurses do not get fed by the hospital - "not even a cup of
* at time of writing this the hospital has had no water within the building
for three days! (I filled a basin to wash a patient with water from the
garden tap!!)
* patients without medical supplies literally lie untouched until gloves can
be provided by the patient/family - even then nurses are short and attention
* surgical equipment is unavailable unless provided
and the list within this dire situation continues. . . .

I started taking a 20lt bucket of thick, hot stew to the hospital to ladle
out to patients, trying to spread it as far as the mens wards. My medicine
basket has to be replenished daily as the demand is huge, yet so basic -
latex gloves, betadine, gauze, strapping and pain killers - yet unavailable.
Patients become malnourished and develop other medical conditions due to the
situation within the hospital. Men, women and children are dying!

I begin to flounder, there are so few patients yet the demands are so high,
how do I stick to my theory of making a difference. . . . ?

I offer to pay the nurses - I receive resistance. . .
Lighthouse church offers to bring food - they receive resistance and resort
to cooking it at the church where family of the patients can collect - not
ideal but an interim solution

Both Lighthouse Church and myself are loath to leave our relevant supplies
at the hospital as desperate times have created desperate measures and THEFT
has become a means of survival!

Proposed solution. . .

* yesterday I met with an extremely pleasant Matron and she was open to
discussion "aaaagh, Jennifer, we meet again, this time under more desperate
circumstance" - I proposed that I deliver (daily) the raw ingredients to
cook one wholesome main meal a day for all patients and all staff members -
I await feed back
* I am trying to source the use of a mini bus that can be driven to various
points to collect and then drop staff on various shifts - to this end I will
also have to source fuel and funds to maintain the bus
* I plan to put together a list of ALL medicines I have and make them
available to all the patients through a 'controlled' system
the above I feel will 'kill 2 birds with 1 stone' as nurses will be taken
better care of and be able to return to work - hopefully then patient care
will improve

Unfortunately, the above means more fund raising, sourcing of food stuffs,
more medicines, a mini bus that will require fuel and spares. . . . . Did I
say 'begin to flounder'?? Someone please throw me a life jacket that is
shark proof!!!

OH ! That reminds me - I also said 'not to put God in a box and to have
faith' so faith I will have, faith in a God that paints a picture far bigger
that you and I can ever begin to imagine and I will have faith that you
special people will continue to love and support us in our quest to save our
hospital. . . .

Thank you and God Bless you all

"don't be afraid, just believe" Mark 5:36

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Zimbabwe: When Will This Mugabe-Made Disaster End?

Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)

Peter Henriot SJ

4 December 2008

"Yes, Zambia has problems - but thank God, we're not Zimbabwe!" I've heard
this remark several times recently and even repeated it myself. But I never
appreciated its full meaning so much until I listened last week to several
close Zimbabwean friends tell me about what they are experiencing these days
in our neighbour to the south. They had come to a meeting in South Africa
that I was attending, analysing the future of democracy in our region.

They told me stories of terrible suffering and asked me not to forget them
when I returned to Zambia. "Put Zambia's problems in context - and shout
about Zimbabwe's problems," they told me! My friends are Zimbabweans, very
nationalistic; very patriotic; working for social needs of the people in
church-related institutions. They can't be accused of being British lackeys!

Well, I was deeply moved by what they told me and so here are a few of my
shouts. I ask you to hear these shouts and then yourselves ask the same
questions I will ask at the end of this column.

Rigged politics

The news the past few days is that perhaps some power-sharing agreement has
been reached between Mugabe's ZANU-PF and Tsvangirai's MDC. My friends
warned me not to take too easily the "agreement" language and gestures. For
what can you expect, they say, from a set of politicians who were defeated
in March elections but rigged the results in order to have a run-off? And
then when it was evident that the Ruling Party would also lose the run-off
in May, they launched a terrorist campaign that crowded out the opposition
from any "free and fair" chance of repeating their March victory.

Were the March elections "rigged" to deny the MDC a victory? Simply ask what
happened to the vote count from the results posted immediately outside
polling stations (like we had here in Zambia for the 30 October elections).
Independent observers state that Tsvangirai received more than the required
50 percent of votes, certainly more than the 47.9 percent awarded to him
after a one month - yes, that is one month! - delay to announce "official"

Mugabe and his friends - including commanders of the armed forces - have
publicly made it quite clear that they will never accept any popular
election results that go against the "sovereignty" established by the
"liberation war." That "sovereignty" is embodied in Mugabe himself. Hence
the manipulation of elections, the reneging on agreements, and the blaming
of all criticism on former colonialists and their sympathisers!

Violent politics

While political disputes rage on, the effects of present and past violence
corrodes any real sense of democracy. Who gives orders to arrest opposition
leaders and sympathisers, to suppress popular demonstrations, to destroy
homes and businesses in urban areas considered to be supportive of MDC, to
unleash "war veterans" and youth militias against their fellow citizens?

Intense fear is the order of the day. Understandably, this is what keeps
ordinary citizens off the streets, since peaceful demonstrations are
strictly forbidden. And when they are attempted, they are dealt with in a
bloody fashion.

Collapsed economy

But even more widespread than the political violence adopted to maintain the
current rulers in power is the economic and social violence perpetrated
against the vast majority of the population.

The Post newspaper of Zambia reported that the Governor of the Bank of
Zimbabwe was this past week re-appointed (on what constitutional grounds,
since no formal government has yet been mandated?) to preside over an
official inflation rate of 231 million percent, but an unofficial and more
realistic rate of 89.7 sextillion percent. That's

The economy has almost completely come to a halt, and only major foreign
currency is readily accepted. Severe shortages of basics like food and fuel
are the order of the day. Electricity and water are turned off in Harare and
elsewhere. Sewerage and garbage disposal has closed down, with the
consequent frightening rise in cholera. Hunger is widespread as charitable
agencies struggle to provide provisions for almost one-half the population
in the months ahead.

Hospitals and clinics face shortages of everything but patients, especially
now as the cholera epidemic spreads (already over 400 deaths in the past
several weeks). Educational institutions are not functioning, as teachers
(those who have remained in the country) struggle for wages that wouldn't
even cover transport costs to get to their schools.

Deceitful denials

What makes the situation described above so very sad is that the persons in
power, from Mugabe down, simply deny there are any problems in their
country. At least not any problems that they could be blamed for! People
really aren't hungry or sick, the economic situation really isn't that bad
after all, and any political difficulties are the products of the
imperialist/colonialists and their MDC puppets.

So strong is the denial mode of operation that highly respected world
figures like Jimmy Carter, Koffi Annan and Graca Michel could be turned away
from a humanitarian visit on grounds that their visit was not only not
necessary but was politically motivated to oppose Mugabe and friends.

One can only wonder whether the leaders themselves believe the stories that
they tell others. Do they go out into the urban compounds and rural
wastelands and see, hear and smell the devastation they daily cause?
Mansions and Mercedes may protect them from the tragic realities of their
sister and brother Zimbabweans, but what about their consciences?

So what?

Ok, at this point the reader can ask me, so what difference does my shouting
make and what could we do? For Zambia, the collapse of Zimbabwe is a
disaster not only for the citizens of that sad country but also for us here,
living in a country with some problems but overall a truly blessed country.
So here are some questions we should ask - and look for some immediate

1. What is the Zambian government's official policy towards the increasing
number of refugees fleeing here from our neighbour? Because of the cholera
epidemic, will Zimbabweans continue to be turned away in Livingstone? What
about the growing number of Zimbabwean women now selling (vegetables and
themselves!) on the streets of Lusaka?

2. What is the response of the Zimbabwean High Commissioner in Lusaka to the
analysis made here and elsewhere that challenges both the legitimacy and the
morality of the current regime in power? Can the Commissioner explain why so
many fellow citizens are fleeing into Zambia? Remember, this is Zambia, a
country whose citizens sacrificed much in lives and prosperity to assist in
the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe.

3. What is the stance of President Rupiah Banda toward the Zimbabwean
crisis? Is there any part of the Mwanawasa "legacy" of courageous challenge
that endures in his official position? Will he exercise moral leadership in
the SADC region?
So these are the shouts I promised my Zimbabwean friends. Any echoes here in

[The writer is director of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection,
Lusaka, Zambia]

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Reaching rock bottom

Dec 4th 2008 | JOHANNESBURG
From The Economist print edition

When it looks as if things cannot possibly get worse, they do

FOR the first time in a decade of political and economic meltdown, Zimbabwe's
security forces have started to voice their anger. Twice in a week, a few
dozen disgruntled soldiers ran amok in the streets of Harare, the capital,
after they had been unable to withdraw cash from banks. Some shops were
looted and illegal foreign-exchange dealers beaten up before the enraged but
unarmed soldiers clashed with the police.

It is too soon to tell if such unrest will resume and spread or if the
authorities will contain the soldiers' anger by giving them extra perks
while crushing a mutinous few. But it is plain that soldiers, the ultimate
guarantor of Robert Mugabe's power, are no longer shielded from inflation,
running at hundreds of millions per cent. Thousands have been told to work
on farms. Many are deserting. The senior ranks-colonels and upwards-still
benefit from access to farms and minerals and other business privileges, and
are probably still loyal to Mr Mugabe. But the fate of junior officers is
looking grimmer.

Meanwhile, food is running out. Severe shortages will leave more than half
the resident population of 8m-9m needing handouts by next month. The few
Zimbabweans still formally employed, probably less than a fifth of
working-age people, earn only a pittance, their wages-if they get paid at
all-long ago squeezed almost into nothing by inflation. Cash-withdrawal
limits imposed by the central bank (though relaxed a bit this week) mean
that people anyway often get a fraction of their earnings. Public-sector
workers are staying away from work en masse. Few teachers now turn up in
schools. Dealing on the black market, subsistence, barter and foreign
currency sent by friends and relatives abroad are most Zimbabweans'

The government has declared a national emergency and appealed for outside
help. The latest catastrophe is a cholera epidemic that has hit at least
12,000 people. The World Health Organisation reckons that more than 560 have
died, but a local organisation says the toll is already at least twice as
high. Most doctors no longer go to work. Harare's main hospitals have
virtually ceased to function. The water and sewerage system has broken down
in many places, including Harare, where the authorities turned off the taps
for a few days in a vain effort to stem the spread of the disease. Sick
Zimbabweans are streaming into neighbouring South Africa. The bordering
Limpopo river is cholera-contaminated.

Almost three months after a power-sharing deal was signed, there is still
little hope that a new government will be in place soon. After more talks in
South Africa, the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) at least agreed on a constitutional amendment providing for a
new post of prime minister, to be held by the MDC's leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai. Meanwhile, violence against the opposition goes on. This week a
leading human-rights campaigner, Jestina Mukoko, was abducted and scores of
trade unionists beaten up or arrested.

In any event, it will take at least another month for Parliament to approve
and enact the amendment. And several big issues are outstanding, including
how ministries and provincial governorships will be shared out, who will be
part of a new National Security Council, and what it will do. Negotiations
may resume later this month. Meanwhile Mr Mugabe has reappointed Gideon
Gono, the central bank governor presiding over the world's highest inflation
rate, for five more years.

The 15-country Southern African Development Community (SADC), which has been
trying to break the impasse, does not carry much weight with either side. Mr
Tsvangirai's party dismissed a recent suggestion from SADC's leaders that
the home ministry, which controls the police, be shared with the ruling
party, while Mr Mugabe's side would hold on to the army and intelligence
service. Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president mandated as
mediator by SADC, reacted with a scathing letter, browbeating Mr Tsvangirai's
lot for rejecting the ministry-sharing idea, and accused them of being
Western stooges.

Displaying their contempt for SADC when that body makes a decision that goes
against Mr Mugabe, the Zimbabwean authorities have poured scorn on a SADC
tribunal that recently ruled in favour of 79 white farmers whose land had
been targeted for confiscation under Mr Mugabe's land-reform programme. A
government official was reported as saying the tribunal was "daydreaming" if
it thought the government would comply with the ruling.

Yet SADC is still the only organisation, so far, with a mandate to chivvy
both sides into a compromise. When a former American president, Jimmy
Carter, along with a former UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, and Graça
Machel, widow of a former Mozambican president and wife of Nelson Mandela,
said they would visit Zimbabwe to take stock of the humanitarian disaster,
Mr Mugabe's government refused to let them in. Since then, the present UN
head, Ban Ki-moon, has managed to have a chat with Mr Mugabe on the fringe
of trade talks in Qatar. But unless SADC, whose leaders are anyway divided,
declares failure, there is little chance that anyone else, for instance Mr
Annan, who managed to sort out a post-election mess in Kenya earlier this
year, will step in soon.

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State of Emergency

The cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe may be spreading to other African nations.

By Roger Bate

On December 2, the United Nations announced that over 12,500
Zimbabweans have cholera and at least 565 have died as a result. The normal
fatality rate from cholera, even in the bad situations that it arises, is
about one percent - so a rate of roughly four times that amount points to
how severe the epidemic sweeping Zimbabwe truly is, as well as to how
general living standards have deteriorated in this African nation. Today,
the Zimbabwean authorities declared a state of emergency over the cholera

So it isn't surprising that hospital workers revolted on Tuesday,
protesting at the total lack of facilities for treating cholera - even
emergency surgery is no longer taking place in the Zimbabwean capital,
Harare, because of a lack of sutures, IV bags, saline, and hygienic
conditions for operations. The police in Harare have been stretched to the
limit, and they overreacted using batons to beat up and disperse the
protesting health workers.

Police aggression may have been the a result of their own mounting
frustration. On December 1, police officers stood by, powerless to stop
rioting army personnel - who themselves were frustrated at having to spend
hours lining up at banks to withdraw just enough money to buy a loaf of
bread or pay for the cost of a local bus journey. Zimbabwe's defense
minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, promised that those rioters will be arrested -
but given that the Army is one of the few supporters that President Robert
Mugabe has left, no one is expecting much action.

Police may have been reluctant to act against the army, but their
reaction to the hospital workers' protest suggests that protests planned for
the end of this week by health-care workers and unions will likely be broken
up before they get started.

There is plenty to protest. Harare has run out of potable water, there
are few toilets working anywhere in Zimbabwe's capital and in several
places, raw sewage collects in back streets.

South African authorities tell me that the Limpopo river, which forms
the southern border of Zimbabwe, is now cholera-ridden and a constant threat
to the tens of thousands who draw water from its banks every day. Cholera
has now been reported in Mozambique and Botswana, as well as in South
Africa. What is not clear yet is whether cases were of Zimbabweans fleeing
their country and infecting locals or whether cases were caught domestically
because of contaminated water. If the latter, then the epidemic could become
a major regional headache within days.

Next week, the ruling ZANU-PF party and the two branches of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change were supposed to once again try to
broker a power-sharing agreement. That, of course, assumes that Morgan
Tsvangirai - prime-minister elect and leader of the main MDC party - is able
to return from travelling around the continent. Earlier this week he was in
Senegal where he has been meeting with that country's President Wade -
hoping to encourage the African Union, of which President Wade is a leading
light, to intervene in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe has prevented Tsvangirai from having
proper legal travel documents - Tsvangirai still has no passport after his
previous one was confiscated. Tsvangirai's "illegal" travel is now being
used against him by Mugabe, who hopes to force an unfair powersharing
agreement on Tsvangirai (and unfortunately, according to insider reports,
Mugabe is being joined in this by South African leadership). The original
agreement of three months ago, brokered by former South African president
Thabo Mbeki, was broken when Mugabe insisted on controlling all the security

But if a new meaningful deal can be made and a national unity
government achieved, it may be able to put Zimbabwe back on its feet. A few
hours ago, Tsvangirai met with Raila Odinga, the prime minister of Kenya.
Odinga publicly called for African nations to kick Mugabe out. Perhaps
meaningful action against the old tyrant is only days away.

 - Roger Bate is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise

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