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

  • The Aftermath of a disastrous venture: A follow-up report on "Operation Murambatsvina"
    Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
    September, 2005

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    Executive Summary
    This 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.

    This latest 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.

    The Vice-President 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 recommendations.

    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.

    Significantly, 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 Police [ZRP].

    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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