Zimbabwe has cut water supplies to the capital Harare, state media reported on Monday, leaving most of the city dry as authorities struggle to contain a cholera epidemic.
Since the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) had failed to find chemicals to treat the water supply, the state-run utility on Sunday stopped pumping water in the capital, the government mouthpiece Herald newspaper said.
”Most parts of Harare — including the city centre — did not get water yesterday [Sunday] amid claims by Zinwa staff that the authority had stopped pumping after it ran out of one of the essential chemicals,” the Herald reported.
Residents in Harare’s populous sister city of Chitungwiza said that their taps had also run dry.
People throughout the city were carrying containers searching for water, while others have resorted to digging shallow wells in their yards in the hope of finding water.
Some government offices have closed down due to the lack of water and sanitation in the buildings.
The city has suffered water cuts for years, prompting wealthier residents to install deep wells or cisterns.
But the city-wide cut appeared aimed at stopping the flow of untreated water around Harare, which is at the epicentre of the cholera epidemic.
Cholera is a highly contagious, but treatable disease that causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting that can kill a patient within hours.
The government says that 425 people have died of cholera across the country and a total of 11 071 suspected cases had been reported since the current outbreak began in August.
There were also reports on Monday that anthrax had killed three people.
Two children and one adult in the Zambezi Valley have died of the disease, which also threatens to kill 60 000 livestock in the region, Save the Children, a British non-government group, said in a statement.
Anthrax is a highly contagious infection that usually only afflicts livestock, but can be transmitted to humans who handle or eat infected animals.
Brushes off verdict
Meanwhile, President Robert Mugabe’s government on Monday shrugged off a regional court’s ruling against controversial land reforms in a new rejection of international interference in Zimbabwe’s affairs.
Lands Minister Didymus Mutasa insisted the government would go ahead with seizing property from 75 white farmers despite a tribunal for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) ruling on Friday that the farmers could keep their land.
The judges ruled that the farmers facing eviction and three more whose land was already seized had been discriminated against because of their race.
Mugabe’s government flatly rejected the verdict, which struck at the heart of his controversial reforms to resettle landless black Zimbabweans on white-owned farms.
”They are day-dreaming because we are not going to reverse the land reform exercise,” Mutasa said in the Herald.
”There is nothing special about the 75 farmers and we will take more farms. It’s not discrimination against farmers, but correcting land imbalances,” he added. – AFP