Relief workers said the near breakdown of urban water systems in Harare and other cities was an important factor contributing to the disaster. "Water and sanitation infrastructure have deteriorated significantly," said a spokesperson for Oxfam, the UK agency. "Sewage pipes have been allowed to deteriorate significantly and are now leaking directly into drinking water. The infrastructure has been crippled."
Nor have they maintained the necessary chemicals for treating water.
A shortages of the chemicals needed to treat water has also hit services. The managers of Harare's Morton Jaffray water works stopped the pumping on Monday, mainly -- according to the pro-government newspaper, The Herald - owing to shortages of aluminium sulphate, one of four chemicals used to treat water.
Just as a reminder, Zimbabweans already have no food, though white farmers recently won a legal case against Mugabe:
A group of white Zimbabwean farmers scored a rare victory against President Robert Mugabe's regime on Friday night when a regional court ordered it to halt a programme of land seizures that has contributed to bringing the country to the brink of starvation.
The cholera epidemic may well spread to South Africa, where another government has failed to maintain waste treatment facilities.
In the decades since the 1980s, spending on treatment works, pump stations, reservoirs and other items has fallen sharply.
Look at the graph to see how sharply spending has fallen, to basically nothing right now. Three guesses for what is meant by the circumlocution "in the decades since the 1980s." Give up?
This fall, says Mr Turton, was matched by a skills shortage. Qualified engineers, most of whom were white, were not replaced by younger, men and women.
Many are now close to retirement age, and younger whites, says Mr Turton, have been discouraged by affirmative action and many have simply left the country.
And in case you'd forgotten about how awful AIDS is in South Africa...
Harvard University scholars estimate that the policies of Thabo Mbeki, the previous president, were responsible for 365,000 additional deaths as people were denied anti-retroviral drugs and other treatment. It is nine years since Mr Mbeki began his catastrophic embrace of dissident scientists who denied that HIV causes Aids, while his health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, espoused herbal remedies and traditional healers instead of conventional medicine.
The whites who really have blood on their hands regarding southern Africa are those who demonized the colonialists, making criticism of black successor governments impossible. Sure, you can criticize this or that extreme policy, but not the underlying fact that life was better under white rule, leading us to conclude that we should allow them to rule rather than their successors, if we value the welfare of the citizens above the party cronies who, on the other hand, have had a pretty nice life since decolonization.
And you can't even criticize the "moderate" policy of affirmative action, since that's sacrosanct here already. When whites are the majority, the top 15% of them is still a large number, and a few of them losing their deserved spots to AA quotas won't cripple the system -- it'll just be like living in Atlanta. But when whites are a minority, the top 15% of them is a pretty small number. When these few are shoved aside for AA quotas, the entire society collapses.
A Martian ecologist with no feelings toward human beings would note the parallel between these events and a parasitoid species whose population size was too large relative to the size of the sustaining host species.