Zimbabweans plead for help

January 24, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 24 – A Zimbabwean civil society group arrived in Kenya on Saturday and pleaded with the Africa Union and other African governments to exert pressure to resolve the political crisis in their country.

The group met with Kenya civil society groups and said it expected to hold talks with other African diplomats to ask them to intervene to restore order in their country.

A Zimbabwean Anglican Priest Rev Nicholas Mkaronda told Capital News that the situation was worsening with 2,700 already dead after a cholera outbreak while hundreds of others were victims of State violence.

"We are not even able to bury our loved ones in decency.  Our mortuaries can’t cope, the government is undertaking mass burials with or without the consent of the relatives.  When you loved one dies, you don’t take them to the mortuary, you have to bury them within the next 24 hours," he said.

Rev Mkaronda said about 40,000 people had tested positive from cholera and more would die as a result of the epidemic since there was no sufficient medical support.

"People are dying in big numbers, we have not spoken of people dying as a result of HIV/AIDS, those who have died crossing the Limpopo River; people who have died because of direct hunger, the death rate in Zimbabwe is higher than it should be," he pointed out.

The activist also complained of exorbitant food prices that were three or four times higher compared to the set prices in South Africa.

He said it had become difficult for people to afford to live in Zimbabwe forcing thousands of them to flee to neighbouring countries.

Apart from that, he accused top government officials of ignoring the suffering of the people and concentrating on exploiting the country’s resources.

Political Situation

Though Rev Mkaronda strongly believed a political solution would resolve the situation in Zimbabwe, he said a lot of damage had been done and the country would require many years to restore normalcy.

He said his hope rested on other governments, and urged them to consider the Zimbabwe crisis as their responsibility.

He particularly appealed to humanitarian agencies to focus on resolving the political problem as well.

He said that giving humanitarian aid without solving the problem that led to the situation may not be successful.

"The political solution is that Mugabe must go, his departure does not mean people will be employed overnight or all the hospitals will be functioning, but his removal will provide an opportunity for Zimbabwe to begin afresh.  Mugabe has become a liability to himself, and the world at large," he said.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been in freefall for years but a humanitarian crisis has exploded since disputed elections last March, when opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a first round presidential vote.

Political violence blamed on Mugabe’s ruling party then erupted, leading to a stalemate which mediation efforts by neighbouring countries have failed to break.


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