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Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles
Squatter camps blossom
Matikinye, The Zimbabwe Independent
February 23, 2007
blitz on illegal settlements in Harare and other urban centres in
May 2005 under the much-criticised Operation
Murambatsvina appears to have achieved ephemeral success judging
by the sprouting of similar settlements in the capital.
camps have left government and Harare city authorities wringing
their hands in frustration at their failure to find a lasting solution.
One such squatter camp has sprouted on a vacant sub-division of
Stand No 259 in Harare’s upmarket Glen Lorne suburb owned by an
Mandy Bizure, works in Namibia as a state lawyer.
say the settlement has degenerated into a haven for criminals and
immoral behaviour in the tranquil environment.
They have watched
helplessly as authorities drag their feet in doing something about
public view along the luxuriant Folyjon Crescent, the settlement,
comprising motley pole and reed structures, thatch or scrap metal
tin shacks, squats incongruously in the middle of affluence underneath
gnarled pine trees.
with her husband when Namibia gained independence after the couple
had constructed a two-roomed storeroom.
She left a brother
as custodian of the vacant stand until he died five years ago, leaving
it under her mother’s guardianship.
A communal bathroom
separates the contraption of asbestos sheeting, hemmed in between
decrepit shacks, that was initially meant to be a storeroom for
building materials during construction.
Further up the
vacant stand behind tall grass lies the squatter camp.
neighbours, who preferred not to be named saying the Namibia-based
lawyer was "well-connected in government circles", the
place had turned into a popular brothel before police raided it.
been raided more than twice - three times to be precise," one
resident said showing remnants of demolished shacks that run parallel
to a stone and mortar wall.
occasionally comes here to see her mother, and probably to warm
relations with her connections in government."
One of the tenants,
19-year old Zvanyadza Chingoma, said she supplemented her live-in
partner’s income selling opaque beer outside a nearby supermarket.
She and her 18-month old toddler started living in the camp a month
She shares one
of the shacks made of metal scraps, plastic sheets and bamboo poles
that is crammed in a corner of the vacant stand with two other tenants.
Along with it,
the squatter camp has brought serious security problems for the
residents of Glen Lorne.
in the area complain of a spate of thefts over the past few months.
More than three families living along Folyjon Crescent lost millions
of dollars worth of household goods in the past week, among them
electrical gadgets and equipment.
some of the tenants spend most of their time in Mbare and only come
to stay at the squatter camp for brief periods.
a tenant evicted (name supplied) for selling mbanje and kachasu
(illicit brew). She now lives in Mabvuku," Zvanyadza said.
the camp could be a safe haven for criminals who commit serious
crimes elsewhere and then lie low for some time until the heat is
would think of coming to such a place to look for criminals,"
suggested another resident.
arrested more than 15 suspects, among them two who live in the Folyjon
squatter camp, after last week’s spate of thefts in the suburbs.
The May 2005
clean-up operation that affected mostly the urban poor and left
more than 700 000 people without a roof over their heads in the
working-class suburbs, was hastily halted before demolition teams
could spread to low density suburbs.
could have been persuaded to believe that whatever future demolition
blitz the government carries out would not affect the affluent suburbs.
have watched, awestruck by the fact that the mushrooming of squatter
camps in the midst of leafy suburbs could devalue their properties.
The Glen Lorne camp is not the only one in Harare’s upmarket suburbs.
Squatters have also established rickety structures in Gunhill, close
to the Borrowdale racecourse. There are also illegal structures
in parts of Highlands, Eastlea and Borrowdale.
officials have prevaricated in following up the clean up operation
to its conclusion, which has encouraged replication of the monstrosities
elsewhere in the city.
failed to repair the damage it inflicted on the poor in its urban
clean-up operation that, in some instances, helped deplete the national
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