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Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles
slaps 'significant' custom duties on SA aid
Mail & Guardian (SA)
August 24, 2005
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
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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