Letters from Tokyo
Zimbabwe Now Faces Cholera Epidemic alongside Other Ills, So Can Mugabe Survive?
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent – THE SEOUL TIMES – SOUTH KOREA
|President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and his wife, Grace|
The situation in Zimbabwe is going from bad to worse and now you have a major cholera epidemic. Added to this is rampant poverty and hyper inflation, whereby it is hard to keep up with the ridiculous inflation rate. However, times may at last be changing in Africa because political leaders in Kenya are now openly calling for Robert Mugabe to resign. In the past regional powers, notably South Africa, either remained quiet about the economic destruction of Zimbabwe by the Mugabe regime, or at worse, they supported him. So can Kenya, and other nations, upset the applecart and rid Zimbabwe of Mugabe by supporting the opposition?
Before focusing directly on the Mugabe regime itself, it is important to focus on the cholera epidemic which is blighting Zimbabwe. Yes, of course the linkage is natural with regards to the leadership of Mugabe. For example the destruction of the economy, rampant poverty, chaotic health care system, lack of water sanitation, and so many other terrible woes.
Of course the Mugabe regime is in denial mode and claiming that everything is under control. Yet according to Dr. Eric Laroche, who is representing the World Health Organization (WHO) during the current crisis, it is clear that Mugabe is manipulating language. For Dr. Eric Laroche stated that “the epidemic is clearly on the increase.” Yet once more, Mugabe does not care about issues like this because he fully knows that Zimbabwe is in steep decline.
Therefore, the death rate will keep on rising and at the moment more than 15,000 cases of cholera have been reported and approximately 600 people have died. Also, when this problem is finally contained it will be because of the WHO and other institutions. After all, the current Mugabe regime can not contain the problem. Therefore, the outbreak of the cholera epidemic and the severity of this outbreak can be firmly blamed on the current regime.
The main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is clearly upset by the scale of the problem. Tsvangirai commented that the crisis could only be solved via “a legitimate government.” He further added that “It is up to that government to deal with the problems the country is facing, which are quite wide-ranging.”
Yet clearly the current leader, Mugabe, is sleeping well at night because the current crisis is part and parcel of Zimbabwe under his leadership. After all, growing poverty, destitution, a collapsing infrastructure, and hyper inflation, not to mention so many other important issues, is clearly a way of life under the Mugabe regime.
However, despite the obvious destruction of Zimbabwe by the current regime, it is clear that Mugabe and his loyalists see the world via a different mirror. For example, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the Information Minister, went on the attack because he slated the international community for creating the current crisis.
He stated that “After squeezing and strangling the country with sanctions and contaminating it with cholera and anthrax, the West is seeking to use the window of opportunity provided by the disaster to justify military intervention.” He continued that “The cholera situation is under control” and that “We have enough chemicals to purify the water. We have got enough foreign currency to buy pipes” to mend sanitation lines, claimed Ndlovu.
So according to Ndlovu, and Mugabe diehards, they see a long list of conspiracies against the current regime in Zimbabwe. However, leaders in Kenya are now fed-up with such rhetoric and instead they desire to see change, and quickly. So now it is clear that international discontent is growing. However, does this mean that the Mugabe regime will collapse?
The answer may be no? Because the African Union (AU) stated clearly that tougher measures against Mugabe will not happen. The AU put it bluntly that “Only dialogue between the Zimbabwean parties, supported by the AU and other regional actors, can restore peace and stability to that country,” said Salva Rweyemamu, AU chairman and spokesman of Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete. He continued that “We have a serious humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. We have cholera. Do they think that we can eradicate cholera with guns?”
Also, China, a nation which invests in Zimbabwe is still moderate and like the AU, China hopes to see a political solution. Liu Jianchao, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, commented that “We sincerely hope that all concerned parties in Zimbabwe will truly focus on the interests of the country and its people and soon form a government of national unity,” Therefore, comments made by both the AU and China, means that Mugabe is not fully isolated.