Opposition and Aid Workers Slam Mugabe's Claim of No Cholera
Opposition leaders, foreign leaders and aid workers are condemning President Robert Mugabe's claim that Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak is under control.
"I don't think that the cholera outbreak is under control as of now," Fadela Chaib, a World Health Organisation spokeswoman, said as she announced that more than 16,700 cases had now been reported.
Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai who would become prime minister if a stalled power-sharing agreement with Mugabe's Zanu-PF is ever implemented, said "either Mr Mugabe is mischievous or genuinely out of touch with reality".
Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for the MDC, said: "Instead of conveying a message of condolences, Mr Mugabe was busy politicking."
Collapse of the sewer and water systems has lead to the cholera outbreak, which many say has overwhelmed the health care system.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), a medical aid charity, says the epidemic could last for months.
"The scale and the sheer numbers of infections especially in Harare is unprecedented," the organisation said.
"MSF expects to be caring for cholera patients in Zimbabwe for some time to come."
The foreign minister of Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, said that Mugabe was responsible for "death and destruction on a grand scale" and dismissed the 84-year-old leader's claims that the situation had been resolved.
"It's evident to anyone who hears the tales of people in Zimbabwe that cholera remains a very significant problem," David Miliband told the Associated Press news agency.
"I wish it had been curtailed or curbed, but I think that the public health situation in Zimbabwe is very, very grave indeed," he said, speaking on the sidelines of an EU summit in Belgium.
Mugabe aides say western media has distorted the speech.