Belmont Club

Preventable diseases

The word “Zimbabwe” comes from the Shona word for “houses of stone”, a description suggestive, in today’s Zimbabwe, of mausoleums. The Harare Times wrings its hands impotently over a nation consigned not only to destruction to pointless destruction without even the benefit of houses of stone.

We in the Diaspora can only watch and listen with horror at the devastation cholera is meting out to the Zimbabwean populace. Reports of mortuaries over-flowing with body bags of both patients and health care workers are befuddling to say the least.

Never ever, in our wildest dreams, did we ever imagine that a government could let its own citizens perish like flies to a preventable and treatable disease like cholera in this century? MDC-USA is deeply saddened by the loss of lives and the suffering our people have to endure.

Even the wildlife are having a hard time of it. When starvation stalks the land, anything goes on the table, whatever Friends of the Earth may say — including elephant. The BBC reports that “Zimbabwean soldiers are being given elephant meat for their rations, a wildlife campaigner has told the BBC. Jonny Rodrigues from the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said that several soldiers had complained to him that was the only meat they were given.”

Zimbabwe is not the only African country in trouble. For example, there’s Kenya. “Kenya is to declare a national emergency because of a drought affecting the East African country. … Correspondents say Kenya’s finances are already under strain because of last year’s post-election violence, which badly affected the economy.” Which is not to say that governments are not fighting back, if not against civil war, then against imploding economies. “The Democratic Republic of Congo raised key interest rates to 40 percent and created a crisis team to try and halt the depreciation of the Congolese franc.”

The rate was increased from 28 percent after a drop in oil, wood and mineral-export revenue, as well as spending on a war against rebels in the eastern Congo, caused the franc to drop against the dollar, according to a government statement given to Bloomberg News today in the capital, Kinshasa. The currency has fallen about 23 percent to 677 against the U.S. currency since Oct. 1, according to Bloomberg data.

Forty percent. One of the signs a system is in real trouble is when previously inconceivable numbers are now bandied around like everyday phrases, even in America. Not too long ago, a billion-dollar bailout would have raised eyebrows. Today serious sums start with a “t”. Who would have guessed, when Robert Mugabe was being handed his honorary doctorates by Edinburgh University, the University of Massachusetts and Michigan State University that he would one day preside over the destruction of his country? A lot of people would have guessed, that’s the problem.