'Elders' Refused Entry to Zimbabwe as Cholera Claims Lives

By Nontando Hadebe 12-02-2008

"Either they don't know or they don't care."

-Gracia Machel, referring to the government attitude on the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

Gracia Machel was part of a delegation of "the elders" consisting of Kofi Annan (former secretary general of United Nations) and Jimmy Carter (former U.S. president) on a humanitarian mission to Zimbabwe. They were all denied entry visas to Zimbabwe. After being denied entry visas, they proceeded to South Africa where they met with Zimbabwean refugees being accommodated at a Methodist Community Centre in Johannesburg. Upon hearing their stories the trio issued a statement to the effect that the situation was far worse than they had anticipated. At the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe a health crisis is unfolding with growing numbers of Zimbabweans seeking medical treatment for cholera.

The number of deaths in Zimbabwe continues to rise. Doctors and nurses are on strike in protest against deteriorating health, inability of government to sustain health centres, and poor salaries that are out of touch with 230 million percent inflation. Much needed rain is sporadic, threatening the meagre agricultural sector. In the midst of these hardships, sacrificial remittances comprising mostly of basic foodstuffs continue to flow into Zimbabwe from neighbouring countries by relatives doing all they can to ease the unbearable situation of suffering.

The political impasse continues, and calls have been made by opposition parties for a new team of mediators as the current team has lost credibility. How much longer the 'power grasping at all cost' and refusal to share power equally will go on, no one knows -- but the human cost continues to escalate. We continue to seek for your prayers and assistance.

Nontando HadebeNontando Hadebe, a former Sojourners intern, is originally from Zimbabwe and is now pursuing graduate studies in theology in South Africa.

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