Friday, December 12, 2008

React to Mugabe's madness

The opposition to Mugabe's ruling party has called his words from yesterday "madness." Yesterday Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe said there was no cholera in his nation, even though Medecins Sans Frontieres has treated more than 11,000 patients.

Bloomberg's Brian Lathum reports on the reaction and the outbreak.

A United Nations health agency stood by its warning that the number of people infected may almost quadruple to more than 60,000, while a U.S. aid agency authorized new emergency assistance for Zimbabwe.

Mugabe made his comment in a nationally televised address, saying cholera “no longer exists” in the country and crediting the World Health Organization and the Southern African Development Community for their help in fighting the disease. He also dismissed calls by global leaders for him to resign.

Mugabe’s announcement is “clearly madness,” Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said in an interview from the capital, Harare. “At least 800 people have died, perhaps more because we do not really know the effect of the disease in outlying rural areas.”

Cholera, mainly spread through contaminated water and food and poor sanitation, causes severe diarrhea and vomiting that can be fatal. The first cases in the Zimbabwean outbreak were reported in August. A collapse of the country’s economy has led to shortages of chemicals for water-treatment plants.

U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee criticized Mugabe and his government.

“The so-called leaders of this country need to stop feeding their insatiable greed and take care of the poor and deserving Zimbabweans languishing because of corruption,” McGee said in an e-mailed statement today.

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