The detection of cholera in northeastern Botswana is causing rising resentment of the Zimbabweans fleeing their homeland’s collapse, and is being used by opposition parties in an election year to slam President Ian Khama’s government.In late January and early February 2009, Botswana’s parastatal, the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), found traces of vibrio cholerae bacteria in the Shashe reservoir near Tonota village, about 35km south of Francistown, the country’s second city, and in Letsibogo Dam near Mmadinare, about 25km northwest of the mining town, Selebi Phikwe.
The dams have been decommissioned and the surrounding areas put on high alert, but among residents there is a growing suspicion that the authorities are covering up a cholera outbreak, as both water sources lie close to Zimbabwe.
“It is obvious there is already a cholera outbreak, but the ministry is just trying to do some public relations to contain the situation,” Lebogang Thutlwe, originally from Mmadinare but now living in Selebi Phikwe, told [news agency] IRIN.
[...] The WUC has not disclosed the source of the cholera, but Thutlwe is convinced the disease arrived with an “illegal immigrant from Zimbabwe”. “I have no doubt this is the case – there are many Zimbabweans here, and most often they bring lots of stuff infested with cholera.”
[...] WUC spokesperson Matida Mmipi told a local newspaper, Mmegi, that residents in the area were concerned about nothing. [...] “The detection of bacteria does not mean there has been or there shall be a cholera outbreak. This is just a precautionary measure we are taking to ensure we are on the safe side, always,” Mmipi said.
Source: IRIN, 12 Feb 2009