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Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles
African partner tries to help Zimbabwe
August 30, 2005
Christian Aid partner,
the South African Council of Churches (SACC), launched Operation Hope
for Zimbabwe to help thousands of homeless Zimbabweans. Its first relief
convoy was due to leave a month ago, but customs delays have kept 37 tonnes
of food stranded in South Africa.
Operation Hope aims
to help victims of the Zimbabwean government’s clean-up campaign, ‘Operation
Murambatsvina’, which translates as ‘drive out the rubbish’.
House and market stall
demolitions have left 700,000 people homeless or without jobs.
Two trucks laden with
maize, beans and oil donated by the South African Council of Churches
(SACC) have been waiting at the border for permission to enter Zimbabwe
for a month.
A third truck, carrying
6,000 blankets, crossed the border two weeks ago, but has only just been
granted a duty-free permit, meaning that its cargo can now be released.
Christian Aid’s Zimbabwean
partner, Christian Care, has started giving out the blankets which will
help thousands stay warm through the cold winter nights. But it is still
waiting for the food to arrive.
The food trucks were
initially delayed by Zimbabwean requests for assurances that the maize
was not genetically modified.
The paperwork was
submitted and the SACC were hopeful that the convoy would get underway.
But more red tape is keeping the trucks stranded.
Eddie Makue, the SACC’s
deputy general secretary, explains, ‘We’re in continued negotiations with
the Zimbabwe authorities, and we’re hopeful that we’ll make progress soon.
We’re disappointed with the pace things are moving. Progress is slower
than we’d anticipated.’
The SACC have been
sharply critical of the Zimbabwean clean-up campaign, calling it a ‘human
As Mr Makue explains,
‘The South African church leaders that visited Zimbabwe in early July
were astonished by the deprivation and suffering experienced by people
who were evicted during Operation Murambatsvina.
‘We felt we had to
do something. Our African spirituality and our Christian faith both stress
our obligation to look after our neighbours.
‘It’s important that
we transform our faith into action and bring a ray of hope to the people
who’ve been left destitute in Zimbabwe. We’re committed to doing whatever
we can, however little, to show our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe that
the church continues to care about them.’
churches and businesses in South Africa are all involved in the SACC’s
Its public appeal
has raised well over £30,000, and many people have also donated gifts
All the food and blankets
on the first relief convoy came from the churches.
South African church
leaders have also twice met with President Thabo Mbeki to discuss the
situation in Zimbabwe. As he blessed the SACC convoy, Archbishop of Cape
Town Njongonkulu Ndungane said: ‘Zimbabwe needs to resolve its own political
and economic crisis, and the South African government and President Mbeki
must use whatever leverage they have got to further this cause.’
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