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Zimbabwe Parliament debate on Operation Murambatsvina (Cont'd) - Page 1
Extracted from Hansard Vol. 32, No. 9
Parliament of Zimbabwe

July 05, 2005

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Debate continued from June 30, 2005

Sixth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on state action in respect of Operation Murambatsvina

Questions again proposed.

MR. GONESE: I would like to thank the mover of this motion for raising this important issue for debate in this august House. Everywhere you go in Zimbabwe people are talking of 'Tsunami Disaster.' Unlike the real Tsunami disaster that happened in Asia, this one in Zimbabwe is not a natural one because it did not come from God but it is man made.

In ancient Rome it was said that, "those that when the gods want to destroy they first make mad". When you look at the events in this country, this adage appears to be appropriate. I have tried to look at the logic behind it but I have found that there is none. I do not see any reason why a Government which represents people would want to cause so much suffering to them. When you look at the devastating effects. One does not understand the rationale for this. As we are speaking now, thousands of people are sleeping in the streets with no homes to go to. Just a few weeks ago they had homes and it was not their fault that they did not properly construct houses.

This Government promised houses for all by the 2000 and now 25 years later, there is no housing for all. We had to pay for different housing schemes which were looted by some Hon. members in this House. In these schemes, people were asked to contribute towards the construction of their houses but funds that they contributed ended up in the pockets of Government officials. That is why we had such houses being constructed and one was dubbed 'Gracelands' et cetera. The point I would like to make is that there was no reason for Government to embark on this operation when they did not have the resources to reconstruct what they had destroyed. We all know that the Government does not have the money and has ideally come up with operation Garikai or Operation Hlalani Kuhle but the bottom line is that nothing will come out of it because they have been ruining this country for the past twenty-five years.

The point that I would like to make is that the prevailing situation in the country is like that of a man whose house is on fire but he actually takes petrol or paraffin to poor on the burning house. We all know that people have been suffering enough without the so called Operation Murambatsvina. The level of unemployment is very high, no decent accommodation and to add insult to injury - Government goes on to destroy the little that they have.

I represent Mutare Central Constituency - this is an urban constituency. In Sakubva, one of the areas in my constituency, most of the areas there had these log cabins which people had to construct because for the past twenty-five years, the Government has been unable to provide accommodation for them. We have a situation where the City Council which was run by ZANU PF for the past twenty-three years has unable to provide adequate housing. At this point in time they can not even service or provide stands because there is lack of resources. So, people had resorted to constructing their own log cabins which they can afford and the Government goes on to destroy them.

It is not just on accommodation but we just also have to look at the issue of flea markets and vendors which again the government have destroyed. I have compiled a list of people who have been affected - this is just a tip of the iceberg of the list of people who had bothered to go to the council to acquire licenses. You will find here I have got at least ten vendors who were properly licensed - some of them were selling clothes at Meikles Park in Mutare. Others were selling seat covers, fruits, handbags, and others were selling vegetables - they were all duly licensed by the local authority.

I will go on to the next page where we have 12 people. The police were indiscriminate in that they were prosecutor, judge and jury - people had no recourse to the whole process. At least, if we had a situation where people had been given prior notice that you must prove that what you are operating is registered or not - it would have been better. This was the situation which obtained before the destruction, people were given a few hours notice pending which their homes were destroyed. I personally witnessed some of the wanton destruction.

There was one that started on Friday, I can not remember the exact date, I spoke to the Officer Commanding the operation requesting that people should be given adequate time at least two months to enable them to secure alternative accommodation. I even asked what was the rational behind the operation - they had no answer and kept saying that those were orders from above. I wondered what kind of a government can give such orders to the police. Some of the female police officers actually cried as the operation was being conducted - they could not do anything but follow orders.

Some of these lists are very long and again, I wish to beg leave to table them so that people who have time can go through them in the Hansard. There is more than a thousand people who . . . — [MR. CHINAMASA: Iyo haipindi mu Hansard, iwe hauzvioni wega] - I think it is important for the nation to know that your Government . . . — [MR. CHINAMASA: Say our Government!]

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Gonese, I am advised that we are not going to print the lists in the Hansard. The lists will be kept in the Papers office so that those Members who want to go through them can do so.

MR. GONESE: I am not too sure of the reason why they can not be printed, may I be enlightened because it would be within my rights? - [DR. MADE: Marights echii?] - [AN HON. MEMBER: ipropagaanda idzo.]

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Because of the volume.

MR. GONOSE: There is no propaganda, these are the facts . . .

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Gonese, by the same token you want to know which Order where that is pronounced - there is no order where it is written . . . —[MR. GONESE: inaudible interjections] Hon. Gonese lets be reasonable about this.

MR. GONESE: That is why I said that I want the people of Zimbabwe who read Hansard to have access to the lists.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, but I am advising you that there is no Order which says that neither is there an Order which says that anything tabled has to be reproduced in the Hansard

MR. GONESE: I want to make reference since it is not going to be printed in the Hansard. On that first page there are 30 vendors who were deprived of their only source of income by the callous and irresponsible Government. On the second page, we have 32, people who were also deprived their source of income by this so called government. Out of those 32, 12 were duly licensed to operate. On the third sheet, we had those people who were duly licensed to operate and again were illegally removed from the premises where they have been operating for a long time. On the fourth sheet, nine people were duly licensed but were wrongfully and unlawfully removed from their premises and these people were paying their licence fees to the City of Mutare. All in all I have got over 254 vendors. The full list goes to 1886.

I cannot understand why a responsible Government would like to create a refugee situation. In other countries where you have got refugees, it is as a result of war, conflict or natural disasters like floods and cyclones. Zimbabwe is the only country which I am aware of where we have a refugee situation which has been created by a Government supposedly representing the people of Zimbabwe. The only explanation that I can have is that this Government does not actually represent the people it claims to represent. The joke doing the rounds is that as some of the people's were being destroyed, they were putting on their ZANU PF regalia and flushing their ZANU PF's cards and they said, we voted for you and why are you evicting us on our premises. The response was, no, no, no one elected us into power, we rigged the election and that is why we are doing this. That is the truth because one cannot understand why a Government which relies on votes would resort to this callous action.

The tragedy is that this Government has been saying that there is bad publicity about Zimbabwe and MDC is responsible. The truth is that this Government is scoring its own goals, they are creating that situation. Zimbabwe at the moment is on the headlines for the wrong reasons. Right now we have a special envoy who has been dispatched by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan to assess the situation in this country. It is pathetic because you find that this Government is trying to mislead the special envoy. For instance, in Mutare the Government claimed that there was no one sleeping in the open when in fact there were several people, more than 35 people who were sleeping in the open with no ablution facilities.

If you go to Sakubva, Chisamba and other places there are pockets of people sleeping in the open. Some people do not want to go to open spaces because they will be asked to go to their rural homes. These people do not have rural homes. Some of these people are Mozambican origin and they do not have a home. Their fathers came from Mozambique but they were born in Zimbabwe. I know this government do not like people of foreign origin that is why they always blame the totemless people of Mbare for all their problems.

It is very unfortunate and it is a very sad day to have a situation where a government turns against its own people. What crime did they commit? You hear them talking about creating better life yet it is the same government which is responsible for the collapse of the economy over the last 20years. We know that they have never been good at anything. They are good at destroying the economy and everything including the livelihood of the people. They have destroyed education and health and they are always blaming other people.

I would like to say that if members sitting on your right would like to know who is responsible for causing untold suffering and misery of the people of this country, they need not to go further, they need to go to a mirror and come face to face with the people who have been responsible for the destruction of this country. Some members sitting on your right tell us that they do not agree with this kind of thing when we discuss this issue in the car park. The majority of them do not support this. If it was their programme, why did they not put it in their manifesto? If my memory serves me well, nowhere in the manifesto does ZANU PF mention that they were going to embark on Operation Murambatsvina.

If it was their manifesto, when we went for elections, surely, they would have said it in their rallies that when we steal these elections, we are going to embark on Operation Murambatsvina. They did not do that. They went on to say that they discussed about this. This Parliament was on recess when you embarked on this operation. Surely, if this Government wanted to consult, they would have brought this issue to Parliament for debate before launching the programme so that hon. members put their input.

We had a Ministerial Statement long after Operation Murambatsvina was launched. Why did we not have it before so that hon. members could contribute? I know the Leader of the House will not agree because he came to Parliament through the window. Those people come through the back door can support operation Murambatsvina but those who come through normal channel should have been given an opportunity to debate the merits and the demerits of operation Murambatsvina.

I spoke with the people of Mutare and they said they were never consulted - [AN HON. MEMBER: Makwavarara was not consulted] - no one was ever consulted, it was just a directive. When the City of Mutare noticed that people did not have accommodation, shacks were allowed. I am talking of the former ZANU PF Council. People were paying certain amounts to Mutare City Council. This was recognition that although they were illegal structures but people did not have accommodation. To their surprise, government destroyed these structures which ZANU PF Council had approved.

With these few words, I would like to implore members seated on the other side to come to their senses and join us in condemning these - (Laughter).

MR. MADZIMURE: Thank you Mr. Speaker, some few months ago, the United States of America Secretary said that Zimbabwe is an out post of tyranny. I could not understand what he was trying to say. Mr. Speaker, before I could finish digesting this issue, there was a confirmation. If it is true that Zimbabwe is that type of a particular state, there is no other way or one can describe the leadership of this country by the way they are destroying the lives of their own people for the sake of power.

Mr. Speaker, I tried to discuss the issue with my colleagues on the other side trying to find out the rational behind the destruction of people's homes. There is no single person who can justify the acts of this Government. Over the years, we have seen a systematic humiliation of the people of Zimbabwe. It did not start now Mr. Speaker. The problem is that sometimes we forget. There was at one time operation Bvisa zvigutsa, when anybody who was perceived to be Ndebele speaking could find his property thrown outside. There was also a time where anyone who belonged to Muzorewa could have his or her property thrown out. We went a step further, during 1985 - we know what happened in Matebeleland. It is sort of a systematic way of dealing with anyone who does not support ZANU PF.

I patiently wait to hear what the United Nations and the African Union special envoys are going to say. The barbaric act left a lot to be desired. This will destroy the same negation of responsibility that the international community has shown when genocide started in Rwanda. Mr. Speaker, if you go to Mbare today, what you will see is unbelievable. If you try to walk along Mukuvisi, what you will see is not believable. We can not imagine your own child drinking from Mukuvisi River. This is not because that child did not have somewhere to stay but it is because of someone who woke up one morning and started destroying their homes.

Mr. Speaker, I was listening from the radio and I heard the Minister of Information talking to Studio 7. He was saying no one is suffering. I could not believe his words considering what was happening on the ground. Mr. Speaker, I could not believe such cheap propaganda when people are suffering. There is a school near Magaba, the number of pupils has dropped by 50%. Where are the parents of those children who used to go to that school?

I was reading through the Hansard and I came across a speech by Hon. Maluleke mentioning the issue of millennium development goals. He was talking about how he thinks the Government should work towards the achievement of the millennium goals. Talking of the millennium goals, even the President of this country agreed and signed in New York that they were going to work towards attainment of those goals. This involved that primary education for our children yet they are being displaced. If it was a well planned policy, it should have been reflected in the budget, it should have been reflected as Hon. Gonese said in the party manifesto. They should have said the Government is going to build so many houses . . . -- [HON. CHIHOTA: A good budget does not supersede good management].

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order, Hon. Madzimure you can continue.

MR. MADZIMURE: I am actually a Member of Parliament who was voted into this August House, I will represent them and say exactly how they are feeling. There is no reason for me to pretend that people are happy. There is no single person in Zimbabwe who can smile while bathing a baby in Mukuvisi. If the Government had an idea of how to construct houses, it should have started by demarcating the land.

Now they have gone to Pfugari's farm trying to build demonstration houses on someone's property. He has dragged the government to court - the same Government which is destroying illegal settlement is now being taken to court. The Government itself is building illegal structures. The Minister is there, what kind of a Minister is that? Can that Minister be a Minister who is fit to represent the people of this country? He has tried to mislead the UN team but I know they are not fools. He is pretending as everything is normal. He cannot continue doing that. In Shona we say that rine manyanga hariputirwe.

Mr. Speaker, this is a serious challenge by the state to its affected people. This is evidenced by the systematic militarisation of the Government and quasi Government institutions and operations like the so-called Murambatsvina.

Now we are abusing our state agencies, we are abusing our security forces and we are even abusing our police forces. For them to be involved in such inhuman activities, it is degrading. We have people who are on ARVs who are receiving their care from home based care givers. Imagine Mr. Speaker, a bulldozer coming to a room where someone is sleeping helplessly, he has no power and cannot even rise and needs someone to lift him or her and destroy their structure to where? Where are you sending that person? Any Government which thinks that it was elected by the people could have stopped and considered the move.

I represent Kambuzuma and we have got Rugare where most of the people are now pensioners. The majority of them had been working for the National Railways of Zimbabwe. Most of them came from Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. Their pensions are now $ 5 000. per month and because of the economic mismanagement, it is nothing. Mr. Speaker, most of those people have been surviving out of those two extra rooms which they had built and they would collect rent from there. Their budgets apart from the fact that they are now old, their burden was made worse by the scourge of the HIV and AIDS.

Some of their children have died, and now they have siblings to look after and they have built some of those structures to house those people who should have been afforded accommodation by the government. It is disheartening.

The Government was expecting a stand off from the people, then they would unleash the weapons they have been buying from China, Israel but the people were not prepared to fall in that trap. Those weapons, if someone had stopped to think and say let me go and service Hopley Farm, it would have been possible to house more than 3 000 families. But this is exactly what happens to a Government when it is drunk with power. Mr. Speaker, we have made ourselves a laughing stock in the region.

I was coming from South Africa the other day and I got hold of the Sunday Times and there was an article from a gentleman by the name Bob Geldolf describing our leadership. It is difficult to repeat what he wrote in that paper - [HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjections] - do you want me to read what he said, I will quote exactly what he said " . . . Live 8 organiser Bob Geldolf has branded Zimbabwean President Mugabe mad, a thug and a creep", imagine someone - why do subject ourselves to that I did not want to say that myself - [MR. CHINAMASA: So your point of reference is Bob Geldolf]

I said I did not expect our leadership to be humiliated because of actions which we are doing ourselves - [MR. MATONGA: Inaudible interjections] - Hon. Matonga, you are the Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity, go and interview people in the streets, they will tell you that you are a creep. Mr. Speaker, personally I would not expect a black led government to humiliate its fellow blacks. What is happening is a fulfilment of the desire to destroy the opposition and instil fear in the ordinary person's mind. The strategies which this government is implementing are reactive and you did not believe in what you were doing. Hence the need for contingent plans to normalise the situation.

The evidence is there, we have seen what happened in the commercial farms when it was believed that the no vote had succeeded because of the commercial farmers. The Government did it - they went for the commercial farmers, we all know what happened. The Government is struggling to normalise the situation on the farms to the extend that we are now trying to invite those who were chased from the farms but unfortunately, some of them are not prepared to come back, they will not come back to Zimbabwe. Tobacco output has gone down from 200 million kilograms in 2000 to 60 million kilograms this year. Those are the problems we are creating as a Government, we are now consuming imported milk from South Africa when we used to have dairy farmers when we used to export milk to Zambia. Companies are closing by the day - no foreign currency is being generated any more and there is no direct investment. Zimbabweans cannot invest in foreign countries because we do not have foreign currency.

MR. MUGABE: Point of order. I think the hon. member is debating on issues that are not relevant to issues that we are dealing with.

MR. MADZIMURE: As a country, we have not yet recovered. The strategy being used by the Government has four main objectives: reducing the population in urban areas in anticipation of an uprising - to make sure those displaced will be removed from the voters roll through registering them on the housing list because they now claim they do not have accommodation, make them poorer and hopeless, so that they become easy to manipulate, this is exactly what we do to make sure that if they go to the government for assistance to survive, they punish them and provoke them.

I came to the above conclusion because of the following reasons. There has never been real effort by the Government to address the accommodation problem in Zimbabwe. If we look back from independence, the Government has failed to deliver sound economic principles to the urban population. The Government cannot say the urbanites contributed to the economic down turn. Since the flea markets were destroyed, no foreign currency inflows were recorded at Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. How does the government expect to get foreign currency from sources which it does not know? There are clear sources of foreign currency like tourism, trophy hunting.

Vendors of these flea markets were paying rates to City Council and if these monies were not getting to City of Harare, then the police should arrest the officials of the City of Harare. To make matters, worse when the police were confiscating these goods, including money, they did not have any record whatsoever to say how much was taken.

None of these policemen were prosecuted, instead it is those people sitting here on my opposite side who have done it. The Government has managed to put our police at a very precarious position. They were allowed to confiscate goods without giving anything to indicate the amounts they would have taken away. That prompted corruption because a lot of police officers enriched themselves. I came across one police officer who confiscated $ 500 000 worth of recharge cards. I have reported the matter to the police and the police officer is going to appear in court. What about those whom I did not see?

People lost their jobs and the Government made a policy statement to say that we want to promote entrepreneurship. We used to have even songs like "Sevenza nhamo ichauya" but you criminalise these people. It is ridiculous and this is a serious matter because we cannot do this to our own people.

I have seen people like Makwavarara commenting on this operation but there is a lot of garbage in Kambuzuma which was last collected three months ago. Makwavarara and the Minister of Local Government and Urban Development came to commission a co-operative by the name Joshua Mqabuko Heights in Kambuzuma. They slaughtered a beast, the Minister cut a ribbon to allow people to construct houses and then you go back and raze that settlement again. When I asked him about this, he said I do not know that co-operative.

If this Government does not have people at heart, then they must let those who want to work for the people do it. I do not expect this government to solve the problem they have created because they are simply playing with people's lives. The fact that they failed to build 100 000 houses from 1980, what makes them think they will be in a better position to 500 000 houses in 4 months. It is a joke of the century.

I have tried to find out who owns that place in Kambuzuma but there are no records. The AU and UN have allowed themselves to be blinkered by this Government. I hope and believe that this exercise stops because a lot of people are suffering. You must go and see what happened in Chitungwiza, a well structured dwelling which the Council approved and gave people stands, they went there and destroyed property with bulldozers. This was not done the current Council but it was done by the previous Council. I do not believe my colleagues are serious. If they laugh when we talk about these things, then it shows that they know very well that they are here not because of the will of the people but because they imposed themselves on the people.

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