Via The Globe and Mail, a discouraging report by Geoffrey York: In a land without clean water, corruption is bleeding Zimbabwe dry. Excerpt:
Zimbabwe, with rich farmland and natural resources including gold and diamonds, should be a middle-income country. But its resources are controlled by a tiny elite, and President Robert Mugabe continues to battle with Western governments and foreign investors, deterring the trade and investment that the country badly needs.
Until the late 1980s, the government supplied safe drinking water to 85 per cent of Zimbabwe’s population. But decades of neglect and corruption have left the pipes dry, forcing many people to drink contaminated water. A cholera epidemic here in 2008 killed more than 4,000 people and sickened another 100,000.
Last year, a report by Human Rights Watch warned that Zimbabwe is at risk of another cholera outbreak because of the continuing shortages of clean water. Since then, little has been done to fix the water shortages, despite government pledges, residents say. “We only see the politicians when they’re campaigning,” said Mr. Gumboreshumba.
A bitter split in Zimbabwe’s ruling party is the latest distraction from the promises. Grace Mugabe, wife of the long-ruling Zimbabwean autocrat, has been relentlessly attacking the vice-president, Joice Mujuru, as a party congress approaches. For months, the country has been consumed by a power struggle over which faction will control the political succession when the 90-year-old President is gone.
Even a senior party official, Environment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, admits the feuding has gone too far. “We have to stop the chaos, the unnecessary jostling for power,” he said in an interview.
Corruption, meanwhile, is a predatory force that drains money from ordinary Zimbabweans. Just down the road from Mabvuku, the police stop motorists at a checkpoint, look for their car radio and demand to see their “listener’s licence” for the radio. If no “licence” is produced, motorists are forced to pay an immediate “fine” of $10, payable to the police in U.S. cash.
More than two million Zimbabweans have gone into exile in South Africa or elsewhere. Doctors, teachers and engineers are among the thousands of professionals who have emigrated. Zimbabwe’s public servants often aren’t paid their salaries. Hundreds of physicians have been on strike for the past two weeks, seeking an increase in their $282 monthly salaries. “We’ve just collapsed as a country,” says Ibbo Mandaza, a veteran political analyst in Harare.