Mayor Fanuel Phiri of Kadoma, Zimbabwe, on Tuesday challenged news reports that 29 children and one adult have died in his Mashonaland West city due to an outbreak of intestinal disease causing severe diarrhea, while the Harare government said 20 children nationwide had died from diarrhea caused by the e-coli bacteria.
But health-sector sources said some 1,800 people had been treated for the disease in Kadoma, while another 129 cases and four deaths were reported in Gokwe North, in the country's Midlands Province.
Health sources attributed the outbreak of diarrheal disease to widespread power cuts that prevented national and municipal authorities from pumping water from reservoirs into water distribution systems, leading residents to turn to less safe sources.
Health experts monitoring the situation said the problem was spreading, but Kadoma’s Mayor Phiri, a ZANU-PF member, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the Health Ministry had brought the problem under control.
Opposition parliamentarian Editor Matamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai charged that the mayor was misleading the public and that more people have died than the government has acknowledged while many more are still seeking treatment for the potentially deadly diarrheal disease.