IRIN published an alarming article this week about the political origins of Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic, which the WHO estimates has infected almost 90,000 and killed over 4,000 Zimbabweans. Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, has largely avoided the high levels of cholera raging throughout the rest of the country. The city’s director of health, Dr. Zanele Hwelima attributes this phenomenon to the fact that the city did not allow the company Zimbabwe National Water, or ZINWA, to control water delivery and sewage management.
The article ties ZINWA’s sewage management—and therefore the cholera epidemic—to a decision by Mugabe’s party, the ZANU-PF to, “dilute the power” of the opposition group, the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) by transferring the provision of services to corporations under the control of central government, rather than with independent companies. And while there are myriad other factors that facilitated and exacerbated the epidemic, this example illustrates in very human terms how ZANU-PF corruption contributed to Zimbabwe’s destruction. With Mugabe at the helm, the precarious unity government doesn’t inspire much faith in their response.
New statistics from the U.N. show that the cholera epidemic is spilling over Zimbabwe’s borders, with nine countries in southern Africa recording rising case numbers and fatalities.