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police target wealthier suburbs
Hartnack, Seven News.com
July 12, 2005
have extended their demolition campaign to Harare's wealthier suburbs,
going after unauthorised garages, cottages - even chicken coops.
The announcement on state-run radio came as a dozen church leaders
from neighbouring South Africa met with some of the tens of thousands
of Zimbabweans who have lost homes and livelihoods in the hated
Operation Murambatsvina - which means Drive Out Trash, in the local
The government defends the drive launched May 19 as an urban renewal
campaign and says it will be providing new homes to "deserving"
Opposition leaders say it is aimed at breaking up their strongholds
among the urban poor and diverting attention from Zimbabwe's economic
The demolitions and evictions come at a time when inflation has
topped 144 per cent, unemployment is around 70 per cent and an estimated
four million people need food aid.
So far, police have mostly targeted shantytowns, informal markets
and other structures in impoverished urban and rural areas.
But police Inspector Loveless Rupere told state radio officers would
also go after unauthorised structures in Harare's wealthier "low
Michael Davies, chairman of the Combined
Harare Residents' Association representing nearly three million
people, said authorities were required under Zimbabwe law to prove
outbuildings were illegal and provide 30 days notice of any demolitions.
"But you are basically in a war situation where the police
don't respect due process," he said.
"The police just ignore court orders. We have criminals in
charge of the state, and criminals don't respect the law. If you
order them off your property, you are asking for a truncheon across
The demolitions, which have left many in the open at the height
of the southern African winter, have caused international outrage.
The South African church delegation toured Caledonia transit camp,
where some 4,000 people are living in tents outside the capital
after their homes were destroyed.
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches is hosting the delegation, which
includes Roman Catholic Cardinal Wilfrid Napier and Anglican Archbishop
They hope to meet with President Robert Mugabe, opposition leaders
and civil society representatives to help assess the humanitarian
impact of the campaign.
Their visit follows a 12-day assessment mission by a United Nations
envoy, who will be making recommendations to UN Secretary-General
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