Zimbabwe opposition calls off mock presidential inauguration

Friday September 14 2018

Zimbabwe's MDC leader Nelson Chamisa

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Nelson Chamisa addresses a press conference at The Bronte Hotel in Harare on August 3, 2018. AFP PHOTO | JEKESAI NJIKIZANA 

By AFP
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Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party Friday called off plans to hold a mock inauguration to name its leader Nelson Chamisa as the country's president after public gatherings were banned due to a cholera outbreak.

The MDC had planned the event to highlight its claims that the July 30 election was rigged and that Chamisa was the rightful president, rather than President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ruling ZANU-PF.

The MDC accused the government of using the cholera outbreak, which has claimed 25 lives, to stop the mock inauguration at the party's 19th anniversary celebrations.

Authorities have banned public gatherings in Harare as a health measure.

"The Movement for Democratic Change has postponed its 19th anniversary celebrations," party spokesman Jacob Mafume said in a statement.

"It is clear that the government is abusing the cholera epidemic for political purposes and puts into serious doubt that the ban of our commemoration event was out of genuine concern."

The cholera outbreak, first detected in the township of Glen View outside Harare earlier this month, prompted the health ministry to declare an emergency in the city after at least 3,000 cases were reported.

The disease has since spread to other towns as well as rural areas across the country.

Cholera outbreaks have occurred regularly in Zimbabwe's cities as authorities struggle to provide potable water and sanitation facilities.

Zimbabwe, which was ruled by Robert Mugabe from independence in 1980 until his ousting last year, suffered its worst cholera outbreak in 2008.

A total of 4,000 people died and at least 100,000 people fell ill.

Mnangagwa has pledged to tackle the current outbreak.

Zimbabwe's largest university postponed its graduation ceremony on Friday.

A World Health Organization situation report revealed that first-line antibiotics were struggling to treat the disease, which has spread to five of the country's 10 provinces.

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