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  • Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles

  • Zim slaps 'significant' custom duties on SA aid
    Mail & Guardian (SA)
    August 24, 2005

    Zimbabwean officials want custom duties to be paid for about 6 000 blankets given by South Africans to victims of the government's recent mass demolitions campaign, an aid organisation said on Wednesday.

    Christian Care director Reverend Forbes Matonga said aid workers have been barred from distributing the blankets donated by South African churches until the matter is resolved.

    "We are trying to get in touch with senior people in the revenue ministry to strike an understanding," Matonga said, adding that the amount demanded is "quite significant".

    South African churches donated the blankets and sent two other trucks loaded with maize, beans, cooking oil and other food items to Zimbabwe two weeks ago to help hundreds of thousands left homeless and destitute in the campaign.

    However, the South African Council of Churches (SACC) said on Monday it was still waiting for clearance certificates from the Zimbabwean government for the trucks carrying relief food to that country.

    "All the paperwork has been submitted ... we are waiting," said SACC spokesperson Ron Steele.

    Zimbabwean police demolished shacks, houses, market stalls and shops during the 10-week campaign dubbed Operation Murambatsvina, which ended in late July.

    Matonga said the revenue ministry is demanding payment of custom duties on some of the food items that were on the two aid trucks that have remained at the border.

    "It's unusually complicated," said Matonga. "But we still think we will get these things in. We are not thinking of sending them back."

    Zimbabwe has defended the demolitions as a campaign to rid cities of squalor and crime and has since launched a reconstruction programme to house those displaced.

    SACC leaders, who visited Zimbabwe twice to report on the evictions, have criticised the government, saying conditions in transit camps set up for the displaced were appalling.

    The church leaders have also twice met with South African President Thabo Mbeki to discuss the aftermath of the government's campaign that left 700 000 Zimbabweans homeless or without livelihoods, or both, according to United Nations estimates. -- Sapa-AFP, Sapa

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