Cholera forces Zimbabwe opposition to call off ‘inauguration’

Zimbabwe’s newly-appointed Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube launched a crowd-funding effort to raise money to fight the outbreak, publicising bank details on Twitter and appealing for donations. But civil society groups blamed the death toll on “official and criminal negligence.”

“It is alarming for such a medieval and preventable disease to continue to claim valuable lives,” said an alliance of local civil society organisations.

The Zimbabwe Red Cross has deployed 1,000 volunteers to affected suburbs in the capital as it characterised the situation as “incredibly complex.”

“Most of the areas affected have been dealing with an outbreak of typhoid so this is a double punch for them and it shows the weakness of the water systems,” Red Cross secretary general Maxwell Phiri said.

Cholera outbreaks have occurred regularly in Zimbabwe’s cities as authorities struggle to provide potable water and sanitation facilities.

Zimbabwe, which was ruled by Robert Mugabe from independence in 1980 until his ousting last year, suffered its worst cholera outbreak in 2008. A total of 4,000 people died and at least 100,000 people fell ill. Mnangagwa has pledged to tackle the current outbreak.

A World Health Organization situation report revealed that first-line antibiotics were struggling to treat the disease, which has spread to five of the country’s 10 provinces.

Zimbabwe’s largest university postponed its graduation ceremony on Friday.

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