Zimbabweans pray for solution amid Harare hospital closure reports

Harare – About 300 people staged a prayer vigil in the Zimbabwean capital to urge political leaders to end their dispute on forming a unity government under a power-sharing deal signed nearly two months ago amid reports that Harare Hospital has been closed down.

The group sat down to pray in a parking lot near a hotel on the edge of downtown Harare, as regional leaders met in South Africa to press Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai into a deal.

"People are dying daily at hospitals because of a delivery system that is now inadequate," organiser Bishop Tudor Bismark of the New Life Covenant Church told the interdenominational gathering.

Plea for ‘appropriate’ government

Political leaders, he said, should "set aside their personal or partisan interests and conclude the formation of an appropriate government, a government that is so appropriate as to obtain the goodwill of our neighbours and command confidence both internally and externally."

A dozen riot police stood watch over the vigil, circling the crowd in a truck, but they did not interfere with the service.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing agreement on September 15 to form a government to tackle the country’s political and economic crisis. But disputes over control of key ministries have delayed formation of a unity government.

The impasse has deepened the suffering of Zimbabweans as they battle with food shortages, the world’s highest inflation at 231 million per cent, and critical shortages of medical supplies and staff at hospitals.

At least 17 people have died of cholera over the past week following an outbreak in a Harare suburb, according to health officials. – AFP