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Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles
South Africa: Partner organizations urge government to respond to
The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation
July 13, 2005
A consortium of South African non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
met in Pretoria on Tuesday 12 July 2005 to be briefed by colleagues
who participated in a delegation of NGO and church leaders returning
from a visit to Zimbabwe.
The last time
Africa witnessed forced removals on the scale of 'Operation Clean
Up' was in apartheid South Africa. The liberation of Zimbabwe has
clearly turned in on itself. No African government that has fought
colonialism can use sovereignty to justify this naked assault on
human dignity. A state earns the right to invoke the principle of
sovereignty only if it accepts its responsibility to afford protection
and comfort to its people.
visited the Caledonia Transit Camp where 4890 newly displaced people
find themselves under shelter of plastic in the harsh winter, with
meagre food rations, without adequate sanitation, and no proper
access to health care or education facilities. Humanitarian groups
such as Christian Care and UNICEF are rendering the few services
available, while the Zimbabwe Police manage the camp.
Scores of babies,
children and elderly people who were, until recently, living in
informal and semi-formal settlements, supported by income generating
activities, are now condemned to living on handouts supplied by
foreign NGOs and churches. A delegate from the Great Lakes region
remarked that the Caledonia Camp was every bit as bad as the displaced
persons camps in northern Uganda.
of the African people against oppression has always enjoyed regional
and international solidarity. South Africa's freedom was won with
support from African nations. The continent's hesitant response
to the suffering in Zimbabwe in the face of such blatant disregard
for human decency clearly undermines the gains of the struggles
of the African people.
The people and
government of South Africa should not allow themselves to be complicit
in this. We strongly urge the South African government, SADC and
the AU, to heed the cries of the people of Zimbabwe. That country
is experiencing neither an armed conflict nor a natural disaster;
and there is no justification for internal displacement. The situation
in Zimbabwe is not one of state collapse and warlordism. It is a
case of a renegade state that has turned its repressive machinery
on its own people in violation of the spirit of African liberation.
We urge the
South African government to respond to the insights and concerns
of this delegation of South African church leaders and organizations
of civil society. Having shared with the church leaders, we welcome
and support the statement released by the SACC yesterday, and commit
ourselves to support a national campaign of relief, assistance and
solidarity to the victims of Operation Murambatsvina. We call on
President Mbeki to mobilize South Africa, within the context of
regional and continental engagement, to bring this crisis to an
for Justice and Reconciliation (Idasa )
The Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum.
Kutlwanong Democracy Centre manager,
012 392 0500
Executive Director of IJR,
021 659 7122
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