Zimbabwe’s cholera death toll creeps past 1111

The death toll from a spreading cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has soared to 1,111, the United Nations says adding to pressure for a quick solution to the crisis in the southern African country.
Zimbabwe`s cholera death toll creeps past 1111
The death toll from a spreading cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has soared to 1,111, the United Nations says adding to pressure for a quick solution to the crisis in the southern African country.
Reuters further reports that Jacob Zuma, president of neighbouring South Africa`s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has ruled out military intervention and backed a diplomatic push as the way to end political deadlock and prevent a total collapse of the once relatively prosperous nation.
US Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs Jendayi Frazer also backed a political rather than military solution but was far from hopeful about talks between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition on forming a unity government.
“We certainly think that the power sharing deal is on life support, it’s close to dead,” Frazer said in Mozambique.
Her comment casts doubt on comments from South African President Kgalema Motlanthe that he hopes for agreement this week.
Motlanthe said on Wednesday the SADC would “launch an urgent international campaign to mobilize financial and material resources to help the people of Zimbabwe … overcome the challenges facing their country.”
The latest cholera figures from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva includes a new outbreak in Chegutu Urban, west of Harare, where more than 378 cases and 121 deaths have been recorded. It adds that more than 20 580 people have contracted cholera since August.
The spread of the disease, which causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration and is normally easy to treat, has increased international pressure on Mugabe to step down.
Prominent figures, including Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Nobel peace laureate and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have called for Mugabe to go or for peacekeeping troops to be sent to Zimbabwe.
When asked in an interview with South Africa’s 702 Talk Radio whether he favoured sending troops to Zimbabwe, ANC leader Zuma said: “No. Why military intervention when there is no war? We should be pressurising them to see the light.”
South Africa’s ANC-led government, however, has continued to back the regional SADC group’s efforts to mediate an end to the crisis. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki is leading the mediation of the power-sharing talks.
Mugabe, 84, agreed to share power with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in September, raising hopes that a unity government could reverse the country’s economic meltdown and rebuild basic services.
Reuters notes inflation in Zimbabwe has spiralled out of control. Prices are doubling every 24 hours and unemployment is above 80 percent. Millions have fled to South Africa and neighbouring countries is search of work and food.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told Zimbabwe’s government it should urgently receive the UN special envoy for the country, which he says faces “economic, social and political collapse.”
At a news conference, Ban also issued thinly veiled criticism of efforts by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to mediate in the Zimbabwe crisis, saying they had failed to deliver results.
Reuters reports Ban said he had told Mugabe at a meeting in Doha late last month that Zimbabwe’s humanitarian situation “grows more alarming every day. Zimbabwe stands on the brink of economic, social and political collapse.”
The United Nations says 5.8 million people, more than half the population, will need food aid in the first quarter of next year.
“I told (Mugabe) things needed to change, urgently, and that I and the U.N. stand ready to help. The president agreed to receive my envoy, Haile Menkerios. Now we are told that the timing is not right. If this is not the time, when is?” the U.N. chief said.
Echoing remarks he made to the Security Council on Monday, Ban said the world needed a “fair and sustainable political solution in Zimbabwe … and we need it fast.”
In pointed comments, he said that for the past eight months, the SADC had “insisted on leading international diplomatic efforts — with little result.
“When the international community or a regional organization takes on a mission, it also takes on the responsibility to deliver,” he said.
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, head of the Southern African church, says it “is now time to isolate Mugabe completely and to remove all forms of moral, material or tacit support for him and his party. Regardless of whether he is a former ‘liberator` or an ‘elder African statesman`, he must be forced to step down.”
Napier added that he is “extremely disappointed at the inability” of the Southern African leadership, including Motlanthe, to make any headway.
“The South African government has the capacity to force Mugabe to go. All that is lacking is the political will. History will judge very harshly the tacit support still given to Mugabe and the little, if any, support given to his opposition, as well as the total disregard for the people of Zimbabwe.
“We therefore call on Motlanthe to stop immediately all collusion with Mugabe and to cut off any life- blood that South Africa is offering him. Consideration must be given to cutting off electricity and fuel supplies from South Africa.”
Napier also said the government should immediately freeze any assets held by Mugabe and “his cronies” in South Africa.
The call by the church comes a week after an Anglican bishop called Mugabe a 21st century Adolf Hitler and demanded that he be removed from power. Others have compared him to Pol Pot, the Cambodian tyrant who murdered over a million of his countrymen in pursuit of a quixotic communist experiment.