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of laws flouted in clean-up
Matikinye, The Zimbabwe Independent
a raft of international conventions and national laws when it launched
its widely-criticised slum clearance operation, a rights lobby,
the Southern African
Human Rights Trust (Sahrit) has said.
government grossly dishonoured education, health and housing rights
entrenched in various international conventions and disregarded
its own laws when it carried out its Operation Murambatsvina. The
organisation is also disturbed by the inappropriateness of national
laws used to carry out the exercise.
Sahrit, the slum clearance blitz violated the right to housing as
provided for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African
Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), the Convention
on the Rights of the Child and the Protocol to the African Charter
on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), particularly regarding the
Rights of Women in Africa.
The United Nations
Commission on Human Rights has addressed the question of forced
evictions in Resolution 1993/77.
violated the right to health which is considered as "indispensable
for the enjoyment of other rights".
Sahrit points out, is provided for in Article 14 of the ACRWC, the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against
Women (Cedaw), the ACHPR, the Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights
of Women in Africa, as well as the constitution of the World Health
The UN Commission
on Human Rights has specifically addressed the issue of access to
medication in the context of pandemics such as HIV and Aids. The
state should at all times ensure accessibility to medication by
all those in need of it.
that a number of people affected by the clean-up were infected and
affected by Aids and some were on programmes for ARVs.
By moving people
arbitrarily, it affected the number of social programmes that had
been in place to deal with the issues of HIV and Aids and exposed
them to danger by simply stopping access to drugs without following
proper drug termination procedures.
The right to
education is provided for in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and Article 11 of the ACRWC.
In this regard
the contents of the Unesco Convention against Discrimination in
Education (1960) as well as General Comment 1 of the Committee on
the Rights of the Child provide useful insight on what constitutes
an appropriate policy on the observance of the right of children
to access education.
In an analysis
of the exercise, Sahrit was concerned that the state flouted obligations
it voluntarily assumed under the United Nations Charter and various
regional and international instruments to which it is a party.
A fact that
worried Sahrit most is that Operation Murambatsvina appeared to
violate provisions of Zimbabwe's own legislation, notably Section
32 of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act, which provides
for, among other things, notice before any evictions can be effected.
by the government in parliament that it is not violating international
law are incorrect," Sahrit said.
that Zimbabwe is comparatively better off than many African countries
in terms of infrastructural development cannot detract from the
fact that Operation Murambatsvina has rendered many families destitute,
compromised the right to health and the right to education, and
that the operation is inconsistent with the human rights obligations
attendant on the government."
It notes that
the arguments by the state that Operation Murambatsvina is purely
an internal matter notwithstanding the human rights dimension of
the exercise is misplaced.
"We find both the process and the outcome of this exercise
objectionable and wish to make plain the fact that human rights
are no longer the preserve of national governments; this now being
a matter of legitimate international concern."
A body of experts
mandated to interpret and supervise the implementation of the exercise
has already declared the indiscriminate destruction of homes by
a state in the absence of simultaneous provision of alternative
accommodation to be inconsistent with the obligation to respect
the right to shelter or housing.
notes that a number of the properties that have been destroyed were
destroyed in circumstances where the state had given beneficiaries
assurances that it would waive its right to strictly enforce the
This was the
case in respect of all those housing co-operatives that were set
up with the knowledge of the state and commissioned by ministers
and senior government officials. It noted that some of the housing
co-operatives had been or were about to be properly registered with
the relevant authorities.
our view that in such cases, rather than evict the owners and destroy
the structures, the owners should have been given an opportunity
to regularise the structures and in so doing avoid a situation of
homelessness," Sahrit notes.
local authorities for failing to cope with housing demands, thereby
forcing the homeless to resort to build structures within their
means. High inflation made it increasingly difficult for low-income
earners to meet construction standards. It cites Porta Farm that
has been in existence for more than 13 years and Hatcliffe Extension
settlement for more than 10 years as examples of state duplicity.
noteworthy that some of the homes that have been destroyed were
in fact established with the full knowledge and/or acquiescence
of the state," Sahrit says.
questions why local authorities found it legal to collect rentals
for the sub-standard structures and when it became convenient to
deem them illegal settlements fit for demolition.
Human Rights NGO Forum, a coalition of NGOs in the human rights
sector, recently called on government "to bring an immediate
halt to all forced evictions until such time as a planned and humane
relocation can take place; to end the forced relocation of persons
to the rural areas; to allow immediate and unrestricted access by
churches and non-governmental organisations to affected persons
so that humanitarian assistance may be given to those affected;
to allow a full and independent audit of the consequences of the
forced evictions; to investigate all allegations of unlawful deprivation
of property and to prosecute all alleged offenders; to make full
restitution of all property illegally confiscated; and to provide
full compensation to all persons whose property was illegally damaged
Nigerian poet and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka said President Robert
Mugabe has lost his bearings.
revolutionary, a liberation fighter has become a monster. He is
behaving like a colonialist," Soyinka said in Cape Town.
should have the courage to sanction Zimbabwe by refusing to give
it loans, he said.
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