MORE than 40 new cholera infections — half of them further than 100km from the disease’s South African epicentre, Musina — have prompted Limpopo health authorities to ask that outbreak sites be declared emergency areas.
The new cases of the water- borne disease were reported at the weekend. Twenty-one new cases were reported in remote areas along the Limpopo River, where thousands of Zimbabweans illegally cross into South Africa. Officials fear the outbreak will become unmanageable if there is no emergency intervention.
It has taken a long time for Zimbabwe's infrastructure to collapse to this extent. The collapse has now reached, or passed, the point that Albania had reached ten years ago. And the South African government continues prop up the mad dictator who is destroying his country and his people.
Five years ago a group of Johannesburg church leaders criticised the state of human rights in Zimbabwe after hearing stories from Zimbabwean refugees, and were castigated by Frank Chikane and Cedric Mayson (two clergy advisers of the ANC government), for doing so, and likened to George Bush. At the same time Bishop Desmond Tutu made a much stronger statement, which was reported in the newspapers, but did not have much effect, since he was retired. But it was the kind of statement that the South African government could have made, but did not. The ANC could see through Ronald Reagan's "constructive engagement" approach to P.W. Botha's human rights abuses in South Africa in the 1980s, but 20 years later it had fallen into the same trap in the way it approached Mugabe's human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
Whether speaking out more strongly against Mugabe's human rights abuses would have made a concrete difference is a moot point, but the "constructive engagement" policy certainly achieved nothing, and the cholera epidemic is just one consequence of that.