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Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles
leaders pulled up for "non-response" to Operation Murambatsvina
The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing,
Miloon Kothari, has described the "non-response" by the African
Union (AU) and southern Africa to the "oppressive" Zimbabwean government
as "shocking" and "unhelpful".
He was critical
of regional leaders' reaction to the Zimbabwean government's forced
evictions during Operation
Murambatsvina (Clean out Filth) in 2005, which left more than
700,000 people homeless or without livelihoods. "The recent clampdown
on the opposition, the lack of transparency, has made it difficult
for us to track down those affected by the operation," he added.
said the government's promises to provide the deserving displaced
with decent and affordable accommodation in subsequent campaign,
Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle (Live Well), had been a "failure".
Soon after the
sudden eviction campaign in 2005, he and several other international
and regional human rights experts had warned that Zimbabwe was "very,
very close to a complete collapse of the society", but the region
had chosen to ignore the "early warning".
His efforts, as
well as those of other agencies, to hold Zimbabwe's government accountable
for the consequences of the campaign since 2005 had been caught
up in a flurry of diplomatic manoeuvrings, led by the AU and South
Africa, who insisted on pursuing "quiet diplomacy".
There were other
countries in the region, and elsewhere in the world, with the same
tendencies as Zimbabwe, which were "cutting across a human rights
approach and not to give preference to the needs of the most vulnerable;
reluctant to pursue housing policies which were inclusive and underlined
the need for mixed neighbourhoods".
Kothari is in
South Africa to look at access to and affordability of adequate
housing, land and civic services, homelessness, evictions, security
of tenure, women and housing, non-discrimination, and the rights
of indigenous people.
He said even "progressive"
countries like South Africa were evicting the poor from the inner
cities in their attempt to "create world-class cities". According
to the Centre for Housing Rights and Evictions, a Geneva-based nongovernmental
organisation, up to 26,000 squatters living in inner Johannesburg,
South Africa, were suffering widespread human rights violations
as a result of the city's redevelopment plan.
adopting a neoliberal approach, be it privatisation of essential
services, such as water, with the installation of prepaid water
meters, which creates other problems. Even in countries with strong
human rights commitment, such as South Africa, there is a big gap
between the recognition and the detailing of the recognition," Kothari
"There is often
contradiction between economic policies which necessitate eviction,
which leads to further segregation along economic lines, as happened
under Operation Murambatsvina, and even the recent evictions in
Luanda (Angola's capital)," he added.
According to the
rapporteur, thousands of poor people in Luanda have been forcibly
removed to make way for new developments. Last year 600 people were
removed from poor areas on the outskirts of Luanda, near the official
residence of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, to make room for
the expansion of a government-sponsored housing project, ironically
called 'Nova Vida' or New Life.
housing is a huge challenge, and Luanda is an extreme example. It
was originally built to accommodate 400 or 500 people but it is
home to four to five million people, and 90 percent of them live
in slums," he added.
cited the market as a stumbling block to providing affordable adequate
housing to the poor, said Kothari, because governments were reluctant
to intervene for fear of destabilising the economy. The existing
housing finance system in most countries did not meet the needs
of the bottom 20 percent of the global population, and was geared
to the lower-middle and middle classes.
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