Leading article: A state of degradation

Share
Related Topics

First the famine; now the disease. Zimbabweans are being subject to afflictions of a truly biblical ferocity. An outbreak of cholera, as we report today, is likely to have already killed thousands. New cases are appearing daily.

Zimbabwe's health system was once the best on the African continent. But a decade of neglect has left it is unable to cope. Clinics and hospitals are under unbearable pressure. They lack the basic facilities to treat patients. Cholera sufferers are now spilling into South Africa in search of medical help.

It is, of course, little wonder that there has been an outbreak of the infectious disease. Sewage and draining systems across Zimbabwe have long been inadequately maintained. Garbage is not being cleared from streets. The proximate cause of the crisis is the onset of the rainy season. Raw sewage is seeping into drinking water supplies.

There is little sign of the Zimbabwean political system riding to the rescue. A power-sharing deal between Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change was reached two months ago. And a new round of talks, brokered by South Africa, began yesterday. But the two sides are deadlocked over the composition of the proposed unity government.

The African National Congress leader, Jacob Zuma, has warned that the delay on a political deal is costing lives. South Africa's caretaker president, Kgalema Motlanthe, who took over from Thabo Mbeki in September, warned that Zimbabwe could "implode and collapse" unless agreement is reached soon. But the sad truth is that Zimbabwe has already collapsed as a functioning state. That is why this disease has taken hold. South Africa must take a considerable burden of responsibility for allowing its neighbour to reach such a state of degradation. If the ANC had withheld economic supplies from Mugabe's regime before now, it might never have come to this.

The South African government needs to tell the Zimbabwean tyrant that enough is, finally, enough. He must agree to the MDC's demands for proper representation in the new government or be cut off for good. And the new administration's first responsibility is to address Zimbabwe's spiralling public health emergency.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Real Estate Solicitor 2+PQE - City

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGH VALUE REAL ESTATE / RESID...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A couple calculates their costs with the help of some paperwork  

It’s the dream of escape that makes couples keep their finances secret from each other

John Walsh
Theresa May  

It's not hard to imagine Prime Minister Theresa May standing on the steps of Downing Street

Jane Merrick
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?