Mugabe cholera denial was 'sarcasm'

Mugabe said on Thursday in a nationally broadcast speech that "there is no cholera" in Zimbabwe after doctors and the World Health Organisation stopped the epidemic that has claimed nearly 800 lives and infected more than 16 000 people.

Mugabe also denounced what he described as Western plans to invade Zimbabwe because of the outbreak.

The government mouthpiece Herald newspaper quoted presidential spokesperson George Charamba as saying that Mugabe had been making "his argument through sarcasm, noting that now that efforts deployed so far towards containing the outbreak were beginning to yield positive results".

Charamba denounced the BBC and France 24, which he said "deliberately distort and misrepresent President Mugabe’s remarks".

"Clearly, these two Western networks have chosen a path of wilful distortion of a clear statement and argument by the Zimbabwean president, in order to advance the war and regime change agenda of their expansionist governments," Charamaba said in the Herald.

He added that Zimbabwe still wanted international assistance to fight the disease, which last week was declared a national emergency.