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

  • ZIMBABWE: Government determined to keep city "clean"
    IRIN News
    October 04, 2005

    JOHANNESBURG - The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) said on Tuesday that the arrest of thousands of informal traders over the past two weeks was likely to exacerbate the economic crisis in the capital city.

    On Monday the official newspaper, The Herald, reported that around 14,000 illegal vendors and foreign currency and fuel dealers had been arrested during a follow-up operation to the urban clean-up campaign earlier this year.

    "Yes, we have launched Operation Siyapambili, Hatidzokereshure (Going forward, No turning back). [It] aims to make follow-ups to monitor the city so that we deal with any of those who are returning to the city and conducting shady dealings," police spokesman Loveless Rupere was reported as saying.

    The police claimed that the most recent campaign had brought Zim $782 million (US $30,000) into the city coffers in fines.

    However, CHRA chairman Mike Davies told IRIN he was unsure whether the latest arrests were informal traders who had returned after being evicted by Operation Murambatsvina ('Drive Out Filth') or other traders who had come to set up shop in their stead.

    "There is an assumption that those who were arrested are people returning to their stalls, but it is still unclear because there is very little information. We do not have access to the records of the arrests, or if people have just been given a spot fine and then released," Davies said.

    "Fines are supposed to act as a deterrent and not be seen as an income generating exercise," he pointed out. "Furthermore, we have learnt that even though the trader may be breaking city by-laws, the proceeds from the fines are being sent to the national government."

    A UN report estimated that Operation Murambatsvina - which the government said was aimed at clearing slums and flushing out criminals - had left more than 700,000 people homeless or without a livelihood after kicking off in mid-May.

    IRIN reported last month that although traders were slowly returning to the city to do business, a new set of stringent by-laws had made it difficult for them to make a living.

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