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Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles
Aftermath of a disastrous venture:
report on "Operation Murambatsvina"
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
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report is a follow up to the previous Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO
Forum preliminary report entitled Order out of Chaos, or Chaos out
of Order? A Preliminary Report on Operation "Murambatsvina"
issued in June 2005.
report traces developments that have taken place since our June
report and gives an overview of the main consequences of Operation
Murambatsvina since it commenced on 19 May 2005. It also locates
the Operation in the context of events that have happened in Zimbabwe
over several years.
announced on 27 July 2005 that Operation Murambatsvina was now over,
following the receipt of the highly critical report of the UN Special
Envoy. This report generally castigated the Zimbabwe Government
for a highly inappropriate programme, and made a number of specific
The report of
the UN Special Envoy was criticised by the Zimbabwe Government on
a number of specious grounds, but the report has been corroborated
in virtually every respect by local Zimbabwean research. Research
conducted in the Greater Harare area by ActionAid International
and the Combined Harare Residents Association indicated that 97%
of the sample had been affected adversely by Operation Murambatsvina,
and the report raised significant concerns about a number of vulnerable
groups. This research has now been complimented by a national survey.
Whilst the Government’s
position on further displacements, evictions, and harassment of
informal traders remains unclear, there are reports that indicate
that such actions have continued after the announcement by the Vice-President
of the suspension of Operation Murambatsvina. Buildings have been
demolished, and arrests of vendors continue unabated.
the report of the UN Special Envoy holds the Zimbabwe Government
responsible for the humanitarian disaster that has followed Operation
Murambatsvina, but was unable to apportion any specific responsibility.
However, as this present report indicates, the scale of the operation
must implicate the Government, a number of Government ministers,
Council officials, and the senior management of the Zimbabwe Republic
Whilst it is
evident that the victims have generally had little opportunity to
seek legal redress, and that the Zimbabwe courts have generally
been unhelpful, a recent judgement in the Bulawayo High Court has
found that the Zimbabwe Republic Police [ZRP] were acting unlawfully
in the destruction of property and the confiscation of goods.
It is evident
that many of the concerns raised by the UN Special Envoy are being
dismissed or minimised by the Zimbabwe Government. As this report
indicates, the Zimbabwe Government has a long history of reneging
on international agreements, as was the case around the Abuja Agreement,
or failing to respect the recommendations of international treaty
bodies, as was the case with the recommendations of the UN Human
Rights Committee in 1998.
When it is the
subject of adverse reports, the Zimbabwe Government has shown a
tendency to vilify and denigrate the authors of such reports, and
then resorts to various delaying tactics in order to prevent discussion
of such reports. This was most clearly exemplified by the events
following the submission of a critical report of a mission of the
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The same trend
seems evident in respect of the report of the UN Special Envoy.
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