Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has clearly lost the plot, denying there is a cholera epidemic unfolding as his country teeters on the verge of collapse. While the rest of the world calls for a military intervention, African countries are stalling on any active solution as commentators lament the limited abilities of the international community to act.
The latest from the global newsroom:
Mugabe: No cholera in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, has said his government has stopped a cholera outbreak in his country – despite South African officials saying the disease has spread across the border. Mugabe’s comments on Thursday came after the UN said that nearly 800 people in Zimbabwe had died from cholera. The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the toll from the disease, which is normally easy to prevent and treat, had risen to 783 and that 16,403 people were believed to be infected. Mugabe said that Western powers were using the disease as an excuse for intervening in the country. — Al Jazeera
UK dismisses Mugabe’s claim that Zimbabwe cholera crisis is over. Britain and France today dismissed assertions by Robert Mugabe that an outbreak of cholera in Zimbabwe was under control. The epidemic has killed almost 800 people but, in a defiant speech by the Zimbabwean president, he said his government had stopped the outbreak. However, Britain’s Africa minister, Mark Malloch-Brown, was scathing of Mugabe’s claims. “I don’t know what world he is living in,” Malloch-Brown said during a one-day trip to South Africa, where he visited a Johannesburg church housing 1,600 Zimbabweans who have fled their country. “There is a raging humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe as well as an economic crisis and still there is no representative government able to lead the country out of this disaster,” he said. — The Guardian
US, world influence over Mugabe limited. President Bush’s eleventh-hour call for Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe to step down may have little realistic chance of influencing the African strongman. But it says much about the international community’s failure to bring down the world’s worst tyrants. Mr. Bush this week joined British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in declaring that the time has come for Mr. Mugabe — one of Africa’s last lions of liberation from white minority rule, but also a despot who resists democratization — to step aside for new leadership.
Zimbabwe, once Africa’s breadbasket and relatively prosperous, is sinking into chaos over the failure to implement a power-sharing accord reached in September between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. On Tuesday, Bush said, “It is time for Robert Mugabe to go.” But with Bush about to leave office, the international community showing little appetite for taking a forceful stand, and the African Union shying away from anything more than dialogue to resolve the crisis, most analysts see little impact from Bush’s words. — Christian Science Monitor
Zimbabwe: UN Security Council to hold discussions. The United Nations Security Council will meet next week to discuss further action against Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has indicated. In a speech on human rights he said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had told him in a phone call that a meeting could be held as early as Monday to discuss the deteriorating situation there. Mr Brown said: “My conversation with Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday night led us to believe that we can have a meeting of the Security Council next week on Monday to discuss what further measures the international community can take. This is where we can make a difference in defending and advancing human rights in difficult circumstances.” — African Path
Doctors Without Borders’ Flickr stream showing doctors treating the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe last week:
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Women of Zimbabwe Arise march against Mugabe. Over 1,000 members of Women Of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) marched through the streets of central Bulawayo today to the offices of the state-owned Chronicle newspaper. The peaceful group distributed flyers calling on the so-called government to stand aside to allow the United Nations to deal with the humanitarian crisis. Other flyers distributed by the group demanded the immediate release of Jestina Mukoko, Violet Mupfuranhehwe and her two-year old baby and the other pro-democracy activists abducted in the last few weeks. They also sang custom-composed songs to portray their message. No arrests have been reported at the time of this release. — WOZA
Zambia denies invasion of Zimbabwe. Zambian authorities have ruled out any possible military intervention in economically and politically troubled Zimbabwe. A deadly outbreak of cholera that has left close to 500 people dead in Zimbabwe has sparked suggestions that Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe be overthrown by military force. But the Zambian government has stated that such suggestions are not in the best interest of Zimbabwe or the region. Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Kabinga Pande said: “there is no need to use military force to tackle Zimbabwe’s economic decline and political instability”. — AfricaNews
The horror that is Zimbabwe: The shame of the west. The outbreak of Cholera in Zimbabwe is one of the major stories dominating the news media in the Western countries. Without question, what is taking place in Zimbabwe is a sobering human tragedy that should give all of us pause and make us reflect on how that country came to its present condition. One should not expect to find a credible explanation in the Western press of why this current round of suffering has been visited upon the people of Zimbabwe. For all of its sympathetic hand wringing, the media in countries like the United States and Britain have ignored the part Western nations have played in this mess and placed the blame solely on the shoulders of President Robert Mugabe and his demand for land reform. — AfricanLoft
From Zimbabwe’s state papers:
“We’re no pushovers”. Zimbabwe is a sovereign State prepared to defend itself against any imperialist aggressor and would never submit to any nation no matter how powerful, President Mugabe has said. Addressing thousands of mourners at the burial of national hero Cde Elliot Tapfumaneyi Manyika at the National Heroes’ Acre yesterday, President Mugabe castigated Britain and the United States for calling for an invasion of Zimbabwe. Over the past two weeks, US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have been calling for an invasion of Zimbabwe claiming the cholera outbreak was evidence of State failure. — Zimbabwe Herald
Africa says no to military intervention African countries have rejected calls by Western countries for military intervention in Zimbabwe with Tanzania, the current chair of the African Union, and Kenya leading the rejections. Kenya’s position was particularly significant as it buttressed the view that Raila Odinga spews vitriol on Zimbabwe not in his capacity as Prime Minister of Kenya, but leader of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement. Tanzania State House Director of Communications Mr Salva Rweyemamu was quoted on Monday as saying that his country was of the view that the challenges in Zimbabwe could only be solved through dialogue. “Only dialogue between the Zimbabwean parties, supported by the AU and other regional actors can restore peace and stability to that country,” media reports in Tanzania quoted him as saying. — All Africa