Cholera outbreak exposes dire situation in infamous Mbare area as crisis reaches ’emergency’ levels


The Zimbabwean government has declared a state of emergency in Mbare’s New Lines area of Harare, ordering that devolution funds be used to improve housing, sewer systems and garbage collection.

Following a Cabinet meeting, officials visited the New Lines area and found the situation dire and in need of immediate intervention. Some residents live in dilapidated houses and will be surveyed for temporary shelter while their homes are demolished to make way for apartment blocks.

The move comes as Zimbabwe battles a cholera outbreak that has seen over 2,000 cases and 15 deaths so far. Treasury and the Health Ministry have been directed to expedite funds for a comprehensive cholera response.

Acting Information Minister Jenfan Muswere said Harare City Council had failed to provide services, forcing government intervention to address the health hazard. Residents pay $100 in rent but the council is not carrying out repairs or properly maintaining sewage and garbage services.

Attorney General Prince Machaya said the state of emergency was based on the situation’s urgency, not legal provisions. The houses in New Lines were built over 100 years ago with communal toilets that overflow into streets and garbage goes uncollected.

Government will take a multi-sectoral approach to combat cholera nationwide, focusing on water and sanitation. The Health Ministry will intensify timely release of funds while COVID-19 surveillance will be integrated with other respiratory diseases during winter.

Cabinet directed vaccination be intensified in all provinces with support from provincial ministers, urging communities to get vaccinated while following COVID-19 measures.

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