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Demolition of houses a threat to humanity
Heal Zimbabwe Trust
November 07, 2013

Operation Restore Order, while purporting to target illegal dwellings and structures and to clamp down on alleged illicit activities, was carried out in an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering, and, in repeated cases, with disregard to several provisions of national and international legal frameworks. Immediate measures need to be taken to bring those responsible to account, and for reparations to be made to those who have lost property and livelihoods.... part of the report by Mrs. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka UN Special Envoy on Human Settlement Issues after the infamous Operation Murambatsvina in 2005.

Heal Zimbabwe notes with great concern the recent announcements by the Government of Zimbabwe to demolish tens of thousands of houses in Harare and Chitungwiza. The organization castigates in the strongest of terms the abrupt manner in which the process intends to proceed with no clear alternative plan. While Heal Zimbabwe is cognisant of the legalities of the move, it is the inhuman comportment in which the demolitions are supposed to be conducted. While it remains the prerogative of the concerned parties to find an amicable solution to the issue, Heal Zimbabwe reiterates that any attempts to remove people without putting a clear mechanism in place will not only expose these people to a number of challenges but flies in the face of the residents’ rights to decent housing and shelter as espoused by the new constitution, the African Charter on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) and the UN Charter .

The Ministry of Local Government headed by Dr Ignatius Chombo is spearheading the call to ensure that all structures including houses and tuckshops are demolished, the directive reminds Zimbabweans and the world at large, of the infamous Operation Murambatsvina that took place in 2005 at the instigation of the Government. The inconsistencies between the Central and the local Government is worrying. Lessons should have been drawn from the adverse effects of the 2005 operation. It is important to point out that the same Minister today who is spearheading this is the very same Minister who was in charge in 2005. The demolition of structures such as informal business which have become a source of income for many goes against the empowerment drive which the same Government talks about. Heal Zimbabwe further highlights that for all intents and purpose, it remains the duty and responsibility of the Government of the day to provide basic services to its population. It is everyone's expectation that the Government should be at the forefront of providing such basic services to its people than wait for them to devise their means of survival only to turn against them and claim that they are staying in undesignated areas.

Heal Zimbabwe wishes to highlight that any approach to this problem without bringing in a holistic approach to solving the challenge at hand will not be acceptable. If the demolitions are to go on, thousands of households are going to be affected, and hundreds of thousands of people will be left stranded, without anywhere to sleep, any food to eat and prone to a number of diseases and even death especially as we head towards the rainy season. The Government should have learnt from the previous operation Murambatsvina that they should put in place mitigatory measures at hand before this indiscriminate operation. Has the Government taken its time to look at the amount of resources that people have invested in the building of this homes, the income level of resources that will be lost when these houses are demolished and not forgetting the number of children that will be out of school.

We therefore call upon the Government, the residents, the church and all interested parties to come together and find means of resolving this conflict.

Visit the Heal Zimbabwe fact sheet

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