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UN debates Zimbabwe amid rise in cholera deat -

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UN debates Zimbabwe amid rise in cholera deaths

The World Today - Tuesday, 16 December , 2008 12:34:00

Reporter: Sara Everingham

ELEANOR HALL: The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Zimbabwe overnight, as the
latest figures show a dramatic increase in the number of people being killed in the cholera
epidemic.

The UN is now reporting that almost 1,000 people have died from the disease and that more than
18,000 are infected.

But the Security Council has failed to agree on a resolution condemning Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe, for failing to protect his people.

Sara Everingham has our report.

SARAH EVERINGHAM: As the Security Council met, the UN released new figures on the toll from the
cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe.

The UN spokeswoman Michele Montas puts the number of deaths at 978.

MICHELLE MONTAS: The cholera outbreak is now affecting nine out of 10 provinces in the country and
spilling across borders into South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique.

SARAH EVERINGHAM: The UN Security Council debated Zimbabwe at the urging of Britain and the United
States.

David Miliband is the British Foreign Secretary.

DAVID MILIBAND: The first priority is obviously to improve the humanitarian aid that is getting
through. But I think we all know that while cholera is getting the headlines, the real disease is
the misrule of Robert Mugabe and it needs political change to tackle this problem at root.

SARAH EVERINGHAM: The Bush administration might be in its final days but the US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice was also at the UN trying to turn up the heat on Robert Mugabe.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: We're really at this point putting plugs in a dyke because the underlying problem
is that the Mugabe regime has really lost all authority to continue to rule in Zimbabwe and so,
Mugabe himself has, and so we are going to need to look at that situation.

SARAH EVERINGHAM: UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has told the members about the worsening health,
economic and political crises in the country.

But not all the members share the views of the US and Britain.

In July the Security Council failed to pass new sanctions against Zimbabwe and yesterday they
failed to reach an agreement on a resolution condemning Mr Mugabe for failing to protect his people
from cholera. There are reports South Africa was opposed to it.

Still Condoleezza Rice holds hope that Zimbabwe's neighbours will come up with a solution. She
wants the Southern African Development Community or SADC to take a tougher line on Mugabe.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Sooner or later the region in the form of the SADC organisation and the regional
states will need to bring more pressure to bear to resolve this situation in Zimbabwe, this simply
can't go on.

SARAH EVERINGHAM: More African leaders have been speaking out on Zimbabwe.

One of them is the President of Botswana.

In return Robert Mugabe has accused him of trying to overthrow his government.

It's a charge Botswana's Foreign Minister Pando Skelemani denies.

PANDO SKELEMANI: He is very angry because everybody treats him with kid gloves and Botswana
doesn't. I think they're trying to divert attention from the problems usually they have, every time
there's a problem they want to cook up something.

SARAH EVERINGHAM: But still Botswana won't go as far as calling for Mugabe to be removed. It
supports the power sharing deal between Mr Mugabe and the Opposition Movement for Democratic
change, even though there are no signs it can work with Robert Mugabe has refused to hand over key
Cabinet posts.

Pando Skelemani says the decision to remove Mugabe must come from Zimbabweans themselves.

PANDO SKELAMANI: Well we really waiting for the Zimbabweans, as far as we are concerned Mugabe
should really go because he has no basis of being there. But we don't think we should send in an
army or soldiers to remove Mugabe because then you're going to kill innocent people.

SARAH EVERINGHAM: African analyst Dr Gerald Horne says Botswana is right to be cautious.

GERALD HORNE: There are very tense relationships between Namibia and Botswana, Namibia of course is
a neighbour that has had border conflicts with Botswana and Namibia is also very close to Zimbabwe
and so if there were to be a military intervention from Botswana into Zimbabwe I'm sure the
Namibians would be involved and once again you would be faced with the regional conflagration the
consequences of which would be ghastly.

SARAH EVERINGHAM: The General Secretary of the Movement for Democratic Change Tendai Biti says his
party would be willing to re-run this year's disputed presidential elections and let the people
decide again.

TENDAI BITI: You can bring on an election anytime, anywhere you want and we will beat you and beat
you thoroughly.

SARAH EVERINGHAM: But there are no guarantees Robert Mugabe will abide by the results.

ELEANOR HALL: Sara Everingham reporting.