By Anna Chibamu
ZIMBABWE’S civic groups say government should be held accountable for the current cholera outbreak that has killed dozens and left over 3 000 citizens needing treatment.
Addressing the media in Harare Friday, the Civil Society Health Emergency Response Coordinating Committee (CSHERCC) condemned the failure by government to respond swiftly when it became apparent the country was heading towards a repeat of the 2008-09 outbreak that killed thousands.
“CSHERCC is saddened to learn of the unnecessary deaths of several people across the country, who have recently succumbed to the devastating effects of cholera.
“As CSOs, we are saddened that the ongoing deaths, which are a result of official and criminal negligence, have brought despair to the affected families and communities and the nation at large.
“CSHERCC holds government, and through it the local authorities and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), accountable for the deaths of people as they have failed to provide basic health services, medical treatment and services, clean running water and sanitary surrounds to people so as to adequately respond to and contain the spread of the waterborne disease,” said the civil society representative group formed among nine organisations.
The outbreak, now declared a state of emergency by government, has claimed 25 lives, according to authorities on Thursday.
The government has since pledged $1 million to enable Harare city authorities to try and contain its further spread with cases now being reported in some parts of the country.
The money, which comes on top of a $10 million donation by leading mobile telephone service provider, Econet, will be channelled towards anti-cholera strategies, among them repairs on the sewer systems.
The deteriorating infrastructure has largely been blamed for the contamination of boreholes and tape water especially in the affected Glen View and Budiriro suburbs.
The civil society organisations said government’s continued failure to guarantee the right to health was a serious violation of both local and international law.