- Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai has accused president Robert Mugabe's regime of depriving ordinary citizens' right in desperation to cling onto power.
Addressing a press conference in Gaborone, Botswana today, Mr Tsvangirai said the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe was the worst the country has ever experienced in history, but being ignored for political gains.
"Cholera is now rife throughout the country, starvation stalks almost every Zimbabwean family and education and healthcare now exist only for the elite," he said.
United Nations Humanitarian Office said the cholera death toll in Zimbabwe has reached 1,123, an increase of 12 deaths in one day. The office said the number of cases has also risen to 20, 896 since the start of the cholera outbreak in August.
According to Mr Tsvangirai, the easily treatable cholera infection has taken toll in Zimbabwe, remaining a major threat to lives of the poor due to the collapsed health system. "The aid agencies are doing their best to cope with this tidal wave of humanitarian suffering, but, as the rains continue in Zimbabwe, they are in danger of being overwhelmed," he told reporters.
Mr Tsvangirai said Zanu PF's insistence on removing the responsibility for water delivery from the local authorities is perpetuating this crisis, saying if the city council was to take charge of the water reticulation system, the party pledges to cover the US$30 million required to undertake the project to treat water.
"Zanu PF has shown itself not to be able to manage donor funding responsibly or impartially which means that this finance is only available to the authority that has a direct mandate from the people and that is the MDC-controlled, Harare City Council," he stated.
Since the cholera outbreak in August, international human rights groups and aid agencies called for interventions to end suffering of poor Zimbabweans. However, there has been few responses from international organisations, with western nations having imposed sanctions in the country.
"If Zanu PF truly cared about the welfare of the people, they would immediately undertake this action and allow the city council to assume its role of providing adequate services to the residents," he said.
President Mugabe and oppositions parties signed a global political agreement in September, to pave the way for unity government, however it has been stalled over the allocation of key ministries in the country.
Mr Tsvagirai said though the agreement was signed, there is little commitment from the ruling party, saying it has failed to put the interest of the country and its people first.
"The MDC can only enter into an agreement that enables us to participate as an equal partner in order that we can contribute to solving the Zimbabwe crisis. This is the mandate we have from the people," he said.
He accused president Mugabe's regime of willingly and repeatedly breaking the spirit of the power sharing agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding that led to the signing of the agreement.
Mr Tsvangirai has threatened to pull out of power sharing negotiations by 1 January 2009 if the abducted members of his party are not charged or freed. MDC claims that in the past two months, more than 42 members of the party and civil society have been abducted and their whereabouts are still unknown.
Mr Tsvangirai won the first round of presidential elections in March, but did not win majority votes to avoid the run off, which Mr Mugabe won in a single contest.
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