We, concerned Zimbabweans living here in Botswana, would like to thank the Government and people of Botswana for making it possible for us to show support for the ‘Fight Cholera Campaign’ of The Botswana Civil Society Solidarity Coalition for Zimbabwe (BOCISOZ) and to our fellow Zimbabwean citizens by our solidarity walk on Christmas Day 25 December 2008. Our second solidarity walk will be on 1 January 2009, to mark the start of the new year.
We have our solidarity walks to raise awareness about the situation in Zimbabwe and the work which is being done by Botswana organisations to help Zimbabweans.
The cholera epidemic which should be an easily treatable disease is taking the lives of many people. This is caused by the lack of delivery of clean water to the people. Cholera leads to severe diarrhoea. This has increased a lot and cholera exists throughout the country. So far, 8887 cases have been documented and over 1000 deaths reported. Due to the severe economic decline, families can no longer afford to bury their relatives. This means that people are not able to be buried with dignity. They are therefore not able to be buried in accordance with their culture.
Cholera has now been reported in the Harare Central Prison where it is known that at least 7 (seven) people have died from cholera. The prisoners are not given any medical treatment. Their health is already poor because of the lack of food and many now suffer from severe malnutrition. Some prisons have been releasing prisoners due to their inability to provide food for them. There are also credible reports of up to 20 nutrition-related deaths per day.
The health system in Zimbabwe has been under severe strain for the past few years, but in recent weeks, it has collapsed completely. The main referral hospitals across the country, are closed or are barely functioning. They have very few staff and no drugs. The main maternity hospital in Harare closed a month ago, leaving no place for women who need urgent medical attention.
In the period between 27 June 2008 and the signing of The Memorandum of Understanding on 20 July 2008, 123 people have been targeted and assaulted. 192 people have been confirmed to have been murdered after being abducted. Their bodies are found dumped in various places, several weeks after their abductions. There are credible witness reports of 18 bodies being found in a dam in Mashonaland East province as well as in other dams in other provinces in the country.
There are dozens of missing civil society activists, including those of the MDC. In the most recent abductions, 15 key MDC party members and staff members were taken. They are alleged to have received military training in Botswana. These allegations have since been applied to Jestina Mukoko of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, and other civil society activists in their current court case.
We, concerned Zimbabweans in Botswana, urge the United Nations and the African Union, to engage with the SADC Member States to ensure that the current crisis back home in Zimbabwe is resolved peacefully, in accordance with the wishes of the people of Zimbabwe.
We urgently appeal to everyone in Botswana to support The Botswana Civil Society Solidarity Coalition for Zimbabwe (BOCISCOZ) in their ‘Fight Cholera’ Campaign. The Botswana Council of Churches, a member of BOCISOCOZ, is coordinating the funds. Bank Account: The Botswana Council of Churches, 57110063593, First National Bank, Mall Branch, Swift Code: FIRNBWGX711 or contact Donald at (00 267) 71309468. So far, BOCISCOZ has given 30 000 water-purifying sachets to 3000 Zimbabweans returning to Zimbabwe from Botswana for the Christmas holidays. It has also given health advice about cholera.
As we celebrate and enjoy ourselves on the day marking the birth of Jesus Christ and we look forward to a new year, may God The Father smile on Africa, on Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Tanzania and the rest of Africa and declare that we have peace, love and prosperity in 2009.
1 January 2009