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Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles
New York Times
July 27, 2005
Anna Tibaijuka, the
highest-ranking African woman at the United Nations, is not one of the
boys. Maybe that's why she did not mince her words about the horrors going
on in Zimbabwe that Africa's male political establishment seems so afraid
to talk about. Late last month, Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent Tibaijuka,
a Tanzanian economist who is executive director of the UN agency that
looks out for the interests of slum dwellers, to investigate the mass
destruction of slums and shantytowns by Robert Mugabe's dictatorial regime.
She has now reported
that the forcible clearances, which began in May and have cost 700,000
people their homes or livelihoods, were carried out in an "indiscriminate
and unjustified manner" with "indifference to human suffering."
The damage from this "virtual state of emergency," she reported,
will take years to undo. In the name of the United Nations, she demanded
that the razing of homes and businesses be immediately halted, that the
campaign's architects be prosecuted and that the victims of this "man-made
disaster" be compensated. It is winter in the Southern Hemisphere,
and hundreds of thousands of uprooted people, many of them women and children,
are shivering in tents.
Mugabe, a tyrant,
is increasingly out of touch with reality. He is starving and killing
his own people, and the unwillingness of some of Africa's most prestigious
leaders, like Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Benjamin Mkapa
of Tanzania, to challenge him publicly is especially disturbing at a time
when these same leaders prate on about a commitment to accountable governments
and peer review of one another's performance.
honesty shames their silence.
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