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Zimbabwe battles cholera and anthrax -

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Zimbabwe battles cholera and anthrax

The World Today - Tuesday, 2 December , 2008 12:30:00

ELEANOR HALL: To Zimbabwe now where the Government has shut off the water supply to the capital,
Harare, in an effort to contain the spread of cholera.

The cholera has so far killed more than 400 people and thousands more remain at risk.

And as the country collapses further into chaos, authorities are now also trying to deal with an
outbreak of anthrax that has killed several people and is threatening Zimbabwe's cattle herd.

Michael Edwards has our report.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: For months now, Zimbabwe has been battling an outbreak of cholera.

The Government's latest response has been to shut off most of the water supplies to the capital,
Harare.

For many Harare residents, it means the only water they can get comes from the street.

HARARE WOMAN (translated): We get our water from here. Taps and boreholes have dried up, when the
tap water was closed, people dug wells, in the wells there's no water, because there's no rain.

So we're all coming here, drinking and cooking water, we fetch it here, also for washing, we bring
our clothes here.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Since August, the cholera outbreak has claimed at least 425 lives, although there
are claims the death toll could be as high as 1,000 people. Thousands more remain at risk because
of a lack of drinking water as well as inadequate sanitation.

Political analyst from the University of Zimbabwe, John Makumbe says the situation is the worst
he's experienced.

JOHN MAKUMBE: I think it's unfortunate because it has reached a level which we have never seen
before. Where, in eventually the whole of Harare, there is no water at all.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: John Makumbe says the situation is being exacerbated by a lack of medicines and
trained medical staff.

He believes it's an indication that the President Robert Mugabe and his government, have failed to
take care of the nation's infrastructure.

JOHN MAKUMBE: What amazes me is why the so-called Minister of Health and Child Welfare, you know
David Parirenyatwa, why he doesn't resign? And even the Minister of Water Resources, you know,
Mutezo, why doesn't he step down and resign? What has happened to these people? They become so
callous.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Relief agencies say as many as 2-million Zimbabweans require immediate food aid.
They estimate this figure could shoot up to 5.1-million people by January.

The Anglican Bishop of Harare, Sebastian Bakare, is presently travelling in Australia.

SEBASTIAN BAKARE: There is cholera which has broken out killing many people, there is no water and
there's no food, there's no electricity, no medicine.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Bishop Bakare says Zimbabwe has not experienced a cholera outbreak for a long
time.

Like John Makumbe, he blames Robert Mugabe.

SEBASTIAN BAKARE: I can say so, because we've never had cholera in Zimbabwe since, in fact I don't
remember that kind of disease, it's a new disease which has broken out because their hasn't been
attention given to infrastructure, especially the water system.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: And cholera isn't the only disease causing problems in Zimbabwe.

An outbreak of anthrax has claimed three lives in the north of the country with reports more than
30 others are infected.

Hundreds of livestock have also died, it's feared as many as 60,000 could be at risk.

ELEANOR HALL: Michael Edwards reporting.