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Zimbabwe: two years after Operation Murambatsvina, there is a need to relaunch the Zero Evictions Campaign and demonstrate solidarity

Since international solidarity is called for, the International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI), in agreement with CHRA, and able to propose better coordination than other international networks, has relaunched the Zero Evictions Campaign.

In May 2005, the Mugabe regime embarked upon the now infamous Operation Murambatsvina (OM) . As winter began, it relentlessly destroyed two fundamental aspects that make up everyone’s lives: shelter and livelihood. Coupled with OM, it also launched Operation Restore Order which criminalized the informal sector. At a stroke, the State rendered thousands of law-abiding and industrious citizens homeless and without incomes.
These two policies were a complete reversal of policies established by the very same regime in the early nineties when they relaxed urban by-laws that controlled building practices, street traders and small enterprises. At that time such policies were largely welcomed and embraced by residents and a major private building boom developed while tuck-shops, small factories and the informal sector flourished.
However, by 2005, the country’s economy was in free-fall and, faced with growing opposition in urban areas, the regime sought to impoverish residents in a brutal attempt to pre-empt the threat of urban rebellion. ZANU-PF’s antipathy to urbanization is well known. Murambatsvina was a barbaric act perpetrated by an illegitimate regime that has nothing but contempt for our people and one that can only maintain its power through fear and violence.
The United Nations Habitat report by Dr Tibaijuka revealed that 700,000 people were left homeless and in desperate need of food aid while 2.5 million others were displaced. Where are these people and how have they been compensated for their suffering?
The regime has done nothing to alleviate their conditions despite the rhetoric of so-called Operation Garikayi.
The Amnesty International report of August 2006 revealed that, contrary to claims by the regime, a mere 3,325 houses had been constructed. Over 90,000 houses were destroyed during Operation Murambatsvina. Since then, construction has ground to a halt and the few houses that were built remain unserviced. Hundreds of desperate residents have been forced to squat along the Mukuvisi River near Glen Norah C, on the outskirts of Glen View 1 and wherever they can find some hidden place away from the eyes of the ZRP. Thousands more continue to languish in the degraded environment of holding camps at Caledonia and Hopley.
Trading and residential stands continue to be allocated on a biased basis, favoring members of ZANU-PF.
Two years on, the crisis is being highlighted once again
Protests and repression follow on each other’s heels: on 11 March 2007, Zimbabwean police detained over 30 civic and political leaders at a prayer meeting. Many of the detainees have been beaten severely. The detainees included Mike Davies, Chairperson of the Combined Harare Residents Association, Madock Chivasa, Spokesperson for the National Constitutional Assembly, and Gladys Hlatswayo, Information Officer for the Crisis Coalition, all of whom have been active in advocating halting and finding remedies against the rights violations perpetrated by the government of Zimbabwe, particularly under Operation Murambatsvina.
During the presentation of the Second Report of the Advisory Group on Forced Eviction at the Governing Council of UN-Habitat (Nairobi, April 2007), the international community showed clear agreement on the need for a new official mission, despite the remonstrations of the government of Zimbabwe.
In addition, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Zimbabwe Watch are specifically calling on the 15 members of the UN Security Council , namely Belgium, China, France, Ghana, Indonesia, Italy, Panama, Peru, Qatar, the Republic of Congo, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States, to refer the issue to the International Criminal Court.
In the meantime, the Combined Harare Residents Associations (CHRA) is keeping records of this corruption to use in court actions when the nation returns to the rule of law and respect for all its citizens. They encourage residents to report all allegations of corruption and bias and will continue to help residents to fight for their rights as well as advocate good quality and affordable municipal services.
This gives good cause not to lose hope.
Relaunching the Operation restore the right to housing in Zimbabwe
Since international solidarity is called for, the International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI), in agreement with CHRA, and able to propose better coordination than other international networks, has relaunched the Zero Evictions Campaign.
IAI calls, in particular, upon the international community, the European Union, and the government of South Africa to exert pressure on the Mugabe regime to acknowledge its criminality and enter into genuine dialogue with all the people so that our beloved Zimbabwe can emerge from the years of darkness into a brighter future.
Any legitimate future government will have a huge task to clean up the mess caused by the current regime. It will have to ensure that the victims of this regime’s brutal policies are compensated for their suffering and that pro-poor pro-justice policies are implemented to heal the nation.
There is little we can do now: one day justice will become available to all citizens.
Sign now to stop the evictions and restore the right to housing in Zimbabwe!

Un Executive Report of the fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe

Forced Evictions – Towards Solutions: Second Report of the Advisory Group on Forced Eviction UN-Habitat

Amnesty International Report: Zimbabwe, No justice for the victims of forced eviction

COHRE Shadow Report to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights redarding forced evictions and Operation Murambatsvina

Campaigns “Zero Evictions”

Daily updates on Zimbabwe situation