Zimbabwe clearances condemned

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

“If the reports are simply half true – and we believe them to be much more than half true – this is a situation of serious international concern,” British Foreign Minister Jack Straw told the Group of Eight (G8) gathering in London.

For five weeks, bands of armed police using excavators, bulldozers and sledgehammers have taken to urban shantytowns.

In the depth of winter and against a backdrop of crippling food and fuel shortages, as well as spiralling poverty and unemployment, between 200,000 and 1.5 million people have been displaced, according to UN and the Zimbabwean opposition’s figures respectively.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe said he ordered Operation Murambatsvina (meaning “Get rid of trash”) in a bid to stamp out urban crime.

The country’s state-run Herald daily newspaper has reported that the demolition drive has led to the deaths of two toddlers.

Eighteen-month old Terence Munyaka died on June 19 from head injuries sustained when the walls of his house came crashing down in the town of Chitungwiza, outside the capital Harare.

On June 8, two-year-old Charmaine Nyika was killed after a partially-razed wall collapsed on top of her in a working class Harare suburb.

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has claimed the campaign is a cover for the organised punishment of government opponents.

His accusations backed up by Arnold Tsunga, from the Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) who said the operation was retribution because the “opposition retained nearly 100 percent of their seats in urban areas.”

“President Mugabe is destroying the support base of the opposition before the 2008 presidential elections by putting people on the run.”

Mr Tsunga said Operation Murambatsvina was reminiscent of the atrocities committed in Cambodia under Pol Pot 30 years ago when two million people died in the country’s ‘killing fields’.

“The Pol Pot scenario is being played over in Zimbabwe with people being forced to the virgin bush with no roads, water, electricity, shacks or food,” he told the Agence France Presse news service.

“It’s like Cambodia in that the state has become a real danger to its own people.”

The ZLHR said it wants to challenge the legality of the government action and its alleged detention of homeless people in camps until they are relocated in rural areas, saying it amounts to abduction and illegal detention.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has mandated Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, a Tanzanian economist and executive director of the Nairobi-based UN Habitat programme, to visit Zimbabwe and assess the humanitarian impact of the demolitions and evictions.

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