Misconduct By Zimbabwe U.N. Official Might Have Worsened 2008 Cholera Outbreak, U.N. Tribunal Finds

South Africa’s Mail & Guardian examines the findings of a recent U.N. tribunal that found misconduct by the former head of the U.N. Development Programme office in Zimbabwe, which led to the 2009 wrongful dismissal of the head of the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs after he warned about the potential for a cholera epidemic. “The U.N. said [Agostinho] Zacarias, now the UNDP’s resident coordinator in South Africa, failed poor Zimbabweans by opting to protect the image of Zanu-PF,” President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party, according to the newspaper.

“In 2008, rocked by galloping inflation and an economic meltdown, Harare was unable to provide water to residents in its high-density townships for months, leading to the cholera outbreak,” but Zacarias “was unable or unwilling to take measures to combat cholera — which affected about 100,000 people in 2008,” despite warnings from Georges Tadonki, the Mail & Guardian continues. The newspaper describes the details of the case, saying it raises questions about the country’s response to a typhoid outbreak last year, and adds, “Civil society organizations that spoke to the Mail & Guardian but did not want to be named because they work closely with the U.N. or receive funding from it, said the ruling raises questions about what the U.N. will do if the events of 2008 repeat themselves ahead of the looming elections” (4/12).

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