Mugabe: Cholera Outbreak Has Been 'Arrested'

But 16,000 cases of disease contradict Zimbabwe's president
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2008 8:47 AM CST
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and wife Grace stand together at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008.   (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
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(Newser) – As the cholera epidemic worsened in Zimbabwe, with more than 16,000 people infected and thousands trying to flee to South Africa, Robert Mugabe said today that the disease had been "arrested." The president used a television appearance to lash out at a supposed western invasion of Zimbabwe, adding, "Now that there is no cholera there is no case for war." But only hours earlier, South African officials declared the border with Zimbabwe a "disaster zone."

Zimbabwe's government spokesmen have insisted that the West is using the cholera outbreak—which is spreading as far as Mozambique, Zambia, and Botswana—to oust the longtime ruler. But the country's health care system has collapsed along with the economy, with inflation so high that prices double every other day. Mugabe remains locked in a power-sharing struggle with Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader who won this year's elections, and has resisted calls to resign.