Urban and rural decay has led to a frightening outbreak of the killer disease
A total of 120 people have died of cholera in Zimbabwe in the past three weeks, according to medical authorities. Outbreaks of the waterborne disease have occurred in Chinhoyi, a small town in Mashonaland West, in Chitungwiza, and in the capital Harare itself.
Doctors believe that many more cases of the disease, which causes acute diarrhoea and vomiting, and can lead to death from dehydration within 24 hours, have gone unreported.
The death toll is now expected to rocket, as the first rains of the season have washed dirt, sewage and other rubbish into the ponds and open wells where many people draw their water.
The Government Minister for Health and Child Welfare, David Parirenyatwa, said: "The outbreak is unusual and alarming." He advised people to avoid shaking hands at funerals - something which is traditional in African society.
Amanda Ncube, an official of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, said the outbreak is the result of a dangerous collapse in basic services.
"Water supply is irregular or completely absent in most urban areas. Burst sewage pipes continue to be left unattended, and there is a lack of refuse collection. In many suburbs raw sewage is flowing into people's yards, in playgrounds, even into medical clinics."
A corresponding breakdown in medical services is another factor in the increase in cholera, which is treatable if diagnosed sufficiently early, On Friday Parirenyatwa Hospital, one of Harare's largest, stopped admissions with immediate effect, due to a chronic shortage of staff, drugs and food.
I visited the Parirenyatwa this weekend. The reception area was an unforgettable scene of suffering, with weeping relatives, groaning sick and injured, and general desperation as critically ill people were turned away and told to go home.
For Zimbabwe, the agony goes on.