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Zimbabwe's government criticized over cholera outbreak

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HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe's new government is battling criticism over a cholera outbreak that has killed at least 25 people.

A crowdfunding initiative by the finance minister amid reports of government spending on new vehicles for Cabinet members has only swelled public anger.

Some local non-governmental organizations on Friday blamed the government for the deaths in an outbreak that is spreading beyond the capital and raising fears of a repeat of the 2008 epidemic that killed over 4,000 people.

"It is alarming and quite unusual for such a medieval and preventable disease to continue to claim such valuable lives in this day and age," said the Civil Society Health Emergency Response Coordinating Committee in a statement. It warned that government failure to "guarantee the right to health is a serious violation of both local and international law."

The government, which this week declared an emergency, has said it is committed to ending the outbreak. Health Minister Obadiah Moyo, while visiting a suburb identified as the epicenter of the outbreak on Friday, said it is not time "for a blame game."

United Nations agencies such as the World Health Organization say they have intervened to assist the southern African country whose economy collapsed under former leader Robert Mugabe, who resigned in November under military pressure.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube used Twitter to announce a crowdfunding initiative to help fight the outbreak, infuriating some Zimbabweans long frustrated by the country's currency crisis and high unemployment rate.

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