Aug 6, 2006 (060806)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
One year after "Operation Murambatsvina" ("Clean-Up"), the damaging
effects of the government campaign aimed at the urban poor are
still visible, reports a recent delegation from South African
social movements. With Zimbabweans expressing little hope in a
divided opposition, internal efforts at resistance are
concentrating on survival.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains the visit report from South
Africa's Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a recent report on meetings
in Harare of the Combined Harare Residents Association, and a
report of a survey of Zimbabwean asylum seekers in South Africa by
the South African-based Zimbabwe Torture Victims Project.
Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today contains excerpts from
interviews from the recent Public Broadcasting System feature
"Zimbabwe: Shadows and Lies."
In related news, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has withdrawn from
efforts to mediate between the government and opposition in
Zimbabwe, while former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa has begun
to explore another mediation effort. Both critics and supporters of
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe see Mkapa as biased towards
Mugabe and unlikely to be effective. But at least one observer
thinks that Mkapa will aim for an "honorable exit" of Mugabe from
political rule. (See http://allafrica.com/stories/200608030294.html
A delegation of four ; Philani Zungu, Nopasika Mboto, Ellen Chauke
and Siphiwe Segodi from different social movements in South Africa
visited Zimbabwe between the 3rd and 12th of July 2006. They
comprised of one comrade from the Anti-Eviction Campaign which was
formed as a response against eviction and other related social
injustices. Two comrades were from the Anti-Privatisation Forum
which brings a number of organisations together in struggle,
including communities threatened by evictions/forced removals. One
comrade was from Abahlali Base Mjondolo fighting and defending the
rights of the poor to demand basic needs. The visit was organised
by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, South Africa office.
This report covers the general circumstances that the citizens of
Zimbabwe find themselves in, one year after Operation
Objectives of Visit
To witness the effect of Operation Murambatsvina in general
To exchange views, learn and share experience with the victims of
To forge links for building solidarity and network.
The delegation was warmly welcomed by the Combined Harare Residents
Association (CHRA) on the 3rd of July 2006. CHRA facilitated all
the tours during the entire visit with assistance from Bulawayo
Agenda and Christian Alliance. The delegation was accommodated in
various households and hosting was rotated amongst the four
delegates. Such accommodation provided the delegation with an
opportunity to meet and discuss with various people in different
communities to get different accounts on the livelihood of
Zimbabweans. The mornings and the afternoons kept the delegation
busy as they visited various sites of Operation Murambatsvina and
held interviews with the Zimbabwean citizens.
The areas visited in Harare included Tafara, Glenora, Hatfield,
Glenview, Dzivarasekwa, Tynwald, Sunningdale, Kuwadzana, Kambuzuma,
Mbare, Calidonia, Porta Farm, Hatcliffe, Tongogara, Highfield,
Borrowdale, Warrenpark, Greendale and Ushewokunze.
In Masvingo the group visited Great Zimbabwe and had a briefing
meeting with members of the municipality. In Gweru the group
visited some home industries including Kotamayi Botique. In
Bulawayo the group met with some pastors, Bulawayo Agenda Director
and victims of Operation Murambatsvina. The group also had a chance
to visit former Killarney squatter camp where shacks were
demolished by the government in the name of cleaning up the city.
The group was briefed on Murambatsvina as a government program
which began in May 2005 where the state demolished people's
shelters and removed vendors from the streets in the name of
cleaning up the city and the townships. The delegation gathered
from the community that this Operation was nick-named Tsunami as it
left a trail of destruction.
Operation Murambatsvina - One Year After
The delegation clearly noticed the damage caused by this 'Clean -
Up' campaign. There was still evidence of the concrete rubble where
once stood housing for Zimbabweans. Open fields which previously
were sites for thriving home industries were a further testimony of
this monstrous operation. Such home industries used to be means of
survival for thousands of families and served as an alternative of
the unemployed. The current unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is
standing at 80%. The streets were wiped clean of all forms of
vendors further eliminating a source of livelihood to hundreds of
According to the statistics made available to the group, 99.9% of
Harare's high density residents were the most affected directly or
indirectly. People were left homeless, sleeping in the open. Some
family members were sleeping in abandoned scrap cars since backyard
rooms which were built to provide sufficient accommodation were
demolished. Pieces of furniture were seen still lying around as
there is no shelter to store it. Most backyard rooms which were
being rented out were also demolished with or without any rent
The government insisted that there was no resistance during the
operation, but the delegation learnt otherwise. People are using
makeshift shelters made of plastics, cardboard and many have
returned to the same sites where the demolishing of their houses
took place. The delegation met with one individual who was arrested
as a result of this resistance. The delegation gathered that the
police still visit the sites of destruction and order everyone in
a makeshift shelters to vacate the "cleaned -up" sites. Most of the
residents complain that the government has never built houses for
them but instead it continues to destroy the little that people
have built for themselves.
The delegation noted that most victims of Murambatsvina had no
alternative accommodation in the rural areas where they were told
to go, so most returned to the cities after being dumped in the
rural areas where most did not know anyone . Most argued that they
could barely survive in the rural areas. The government destroyed
dwellings made of brick and mortar claiming it was cleaning the
country of any squatter camps.
The delegation heard evidence of an HIV/AIDS support group that was
severely affected since it was not getting any form of support from
the state and the building which the organisation used was
demolished and as a result, the project was brought to a halt. The
support group now has difficulties in tracking its members and they
have to start all over again for their projects and shelter to
continue. An orphanage was destroyed during the operation and the
poor orphans had to seek shelter at a church.
Students suffered as they had to dropout after their homes were
destroyed and the parents/guardians were sent to the rural areas.
A women's group focussing on women empowerment was severely
affected as the members were selling their goods in the informal
market that was destroyed during the operation. The women are
currently facing continuous harassment by the police ordering them
to stop selling their wares.
The delegation also visited the Ushewokunze settlement which had
previously been occupied by civil servants and war veterans. The
dwellings were completely destroyed although some reconstruction
has since started. This surprised the delegation since they had
thought that only those people who were perceived to be
anti-government were targeted, and yet civil servants work for the
government and war veterans are by and large part of the ZANU-PF
Masvingo and Gweru were less affected compared to Harare. The group
did not spend a lot of time in these areas. However, they met with
2 councillors from Masvingo City Council where the role of councils
in Murambatsvina was discussed. The councillors briefly told the
group that they were never consulted on the operation by central
government or anyone else.
In Gweru, the delegation managed to gain access to the Operation
Garikayi (the so-called 'rebuilding' programme of the government)
houses as compared to Harare where there was tight security in the
new Garikayi houses. The residents of both Harare and Gweru claimed
only individuals who lost their own homes had the possibility of
getting houses under Operation Garikayi. Tenants have been
excluded. Most people claimed the Garikayi Operation was an attempt
by the government to cover up the embarrassment of Operation
Murambatsvina. Further claims were that Operation Garikayi
benefited those who were politically connected to the government
and those who could afford a certain amount. Individuals who were
meant to benefit from Garikayi have been long forgotten. The
current number of units build under Operation Garikayi constitutes
about 5% of the dwellings destroyed in Operation Murambatsvina.
Further claims are that the Operation Garikayi has all but come to
a halt due to lack of funds for construction.
The situation in Bulawayo was similar to that in Harare. A
coalition of churches made positive intervention around the victims
of Operation Murambatsvina by providing food, clothing, burying the
dead and paying school fees to date. The church leaders were
harassed by police for helping the victims of Operation
Murambatsvina. Data was collected of people put in transit camps
during the Operation by the churches and was provided as part of
the church's submissions to the UN envoy.
The delegation was debriefed by Bulawayo Agenda on how the
organisation facilitated a platform for residents to discuss
Murambatsvina. They were faced by police harassment as well, but
are striving to bring the Bulawayo residents associations together.
The Zimbabwean community face formidable challenges caused by
political divisions. Many still have to accept that Operation
Murambatsvina affected everyone despite their political
affiliation. There is a need to eliminate individualism and replace
it with collective effort. Unity amongst the communities could
strengthen social movements in the country. There is a growing need
for communities to overcome their accumulated fear of the
government if a way forward, one year after Murambatsvina, is to be
found. Those outside Zimbabwe, in particular the poor majority who
themselves are suffering from evictions, lack of adequate housing
and other basic services, need to build solidarity with ordinary
Zimbabweans and embark on campaigns that will bring meaningful and
lasting political and socio-economic change to Zimbabwe. The poor
communities in South Africa can, and should, project the voice of
the suffering Zimbabweans.
Harare residents resolve to end tyranny in the capital
This is the summarised report of the three public meetings held on
Saturday 15 July 2006 in Mabvuku, Kambuzuma and Highfield.
Harare residents have come up with a concoction of resolutions to
move the agendas of restoring Harare to its rightful owners as a
matter of urgency.
Three public meetings held at Mabvuku Community Hall Area D',
Kambuzuma Community Hall and at Zororo Community Centre on Saturday
15 July 2006. These gatherings were organised with the main
objective of raising residents' awareness of their rights to
representation at Town House and defining the areas of collective
At all these gatherings the residents were unanimous in their
demands and called on the government and the City of Harare to
immediately address the issues affecting residents in areas of
service delivery, the circus at Town House, the illegal commission
running the affairs of Harare, and the water crisis.
Addressing the Mabvuku gathering, Joseph Rose, Ward 21 coordinator
and also the Chairperson of the Membership Committee said residents
had to make clear demands on the government, the Zimbabwe National
Water Authority (ZINWA) and the City of Harare.
Israel Mabhoo, the Acting Chairperson of CHRA, who addressed the
Highfield gathering told CHRA Information afterwards that: "People
are now geared to show their anger by way of protests. The good
thing about all these public meetings is that residents are
expressing their true feelings. The City of Harare has been robbing
residents and residents will no longer keep quiet. Their anger is
apparent and that is what we as CHRA has to harness and use it
He said 'Residents must respond promptly to issues affecting them
and not to wait for someone to come in and give them the
solutions," Rose said. "The Combined Harare Residents' Association
will not sit back and watch things get worse at Town House and
residents are reduced to objects of public ridicule. Residents will
determine how Harare is run.
"CHRA is law-abiding organisation that believes in the laws of this
country but will not hesitate to confront the municipality and the
government over collapsed service delivery. We have to pursue the
legal route first just for the record; whatever happens thereafter
depends on the municipality's response to our issues."
Also speaking at the Kambuzuma public meeting, attended by nearly
400 residents, Jabusile Shumba, the CHRA Advocacy and Training
Officer said residents should stop being cry-babies but should take
the initiative to restore their city to its rightful owners.
He said: "The City of Harare has pursued a route of illegality from
budget formulation, implementation to service delivery. The culture
of impunity that we witness today is a direct result of the illegal
commission in charge of the capital. As residents we should not be
hoodwinked by inconsistent statements coming from Town House. We
should get organised and move together as a community o9f residents
to defend what is legitimately ours for the taking."
He explained that the budget that the City of Harare has
implemented was carried through despite written objections lodged
by Harare residents at Town House. This was a clear indication that
the commission running the affairs of Harare was irresponsible,
arrogant and illegitimate.
At all the public gatherings, the residents were mainly concerned
with the absence of an elected council mandated by the residents to
run their affairs. They also raised their concern over the
involvement of ZINWA in water supply and administration which has
cost the residents more money in rates payment.
The gatherings rejected the joint statement placed in the media by
the City of Harare and ZINWA encouraging "residents to pay the May
water rates instead of the new rates imposed by ZINWA in June".
CHRA is issuing out objection letters on the water crisis in
Harare. These letters are being collected from our CHRA offices at
Daventry House Room 103, at corner South Avenue and Angwa Street.
Below are the key resolutions of the public meetings which
residents said there would be no compromise on those demands;
Residents reject the continued involvement of ZINWA in water
supply and administration in Harare.
Mayoral and council elections must be held in Harare before
residents can fund the municipality under a commission through
payment of rates. No taxation without representation!
Residents shall not pay for un-provided services like refuse
collection, arguing that there is contract between the City of
Harare and residents through an exchange of value.
The workforce at the Kambuzuma District Office is incompetent and
has to be replaced if the municipality hopes to maintain a relation
Residents want the District Offices to give residents a total
breakdown of income and expenditure at each of the 29 district and
sub-district offices in Harare.
Residents demand actual meter readings and not estimate readings
To wage a total rates boycott by mobilising all residents and the
business community until Town House is restored to Harare
Statement on torture report 'Over Our Dead Bodies'
The report "Over Our Dead Bodies" adds to the growing body of
evidence showing the problem of state torture in Zimbabwe.
This report shows the work of the Zimbabwe Torture Victims Project
(ZTVP) which provides medical treatment, psychosocial counselling
and legal services to primary victims of organised violence and
torture. The project assists Zimbabwean torture survivors from the
year 2000 until now who have sought refuge in South Africa. The
project is based in Johannesburg at the Centre for the Study of
Violence and Reconciliation.
The new report was presented to the House of Lords in London on
the 26th of June 2006 to commemorate the United Nations
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
The 267 cases analysed in the report show evidence of the
perpetration of systematic and organised violence and torture in
Zimbabwe, often by state sponsored agents. 45% of victims were
tortured by the ruling party, Zanu PF, 27% by police and 22% by
state youth militia, whom are often under the age of 18.
The most common forms of torture documented in our report, either
exclusively or combined, are: severe beating in 72% of cases
reported; electric shock in 13% , often on genitals and mouth; and
falanga (beating on the soles of ones feet) 7%. Psychological
torture involving threats against oneself or families, witnessing
of abuse and torture of others, and disappearances are other forms
of torture described in the report. These experiences of
persecution in Zimbabwe account for many of the difficulties our
clients face in terms of being the 'survivor', as well as coping
with the many hardships they encounter in South Africa.
"Considering that the majority of the Zimbabwean victims were
employed prior to coming to South Africa, the data obtained
challenges the commonly held belief in South Africa that
Zimbabweans are coming into the country in search of employment"
said Ahmed Motala, acting director of CSVR. "This report proves
that many Zimbabweans are genuinely fleeing persecution and coming
south for safety and protection."
The majority of ZTVP clients face humanitarian crises because of
the difficulties they face in getting legal asylum status with the
Department of Home Affairs. Without this vital protection, the
already vulnerable victims are exposed to undue levels of stress
and are hard-pressed to obtain housing, food and employment.
"It is imperative that the South African Government be true to its
human rights commitments, enshrined in its Constitution and
international conventions to which it is signatory, and that it
expedite access to the asylum determination procedure for
Zimbabweans," said Mr Motala.
Over our dead bodies! Report on victims of organized violence and
torture in Zimbabwe
This report provides a brief top-line analysis of 267 Zimbabweans
who sought assistance from the Zimbabwe Torture Victims Project
(ZTVP), located in Johannesburg, South Africa, over the past one
and half years. In recent times, South Africa has seen an increase
in the number of Zimbabweans coming into South Africa linked to the
political crisis in that country. In particular, since 2002, there
has been a massive increase in the number of Zimbabweans requesting
political asylum in South Africa. To illustrate, in 2002
approximately 120 Zimbabweans applied for asylum. In 2003, this
number increased to approximately 2700, and trebled to 8500 in
2004. By the end of 2005, approximately 16000 Zimbabweans had
applied for asylum in South Africa . Recent statistics further show
that the movement into South Africa of Zimbabweans fleeing
persecution is not abating. Instead, for the months of January,
February and March 2006, Zimbabwe has come to represent the main
country from which the largest number of newly arrived asylum
seekers in South Africa derive. In the first quarter of 2006 alone,
7211 Zimbabweans applied for refugee status in South Africa .
A number of studies have sought to document the deepening political
crisis in Zimbabwe, patterns of violence and torture in that
country, and their links to key political processes, such as
elections. In September 2005, the ZTVP undertook a snap survey of
Zimbabweans living in five different locations in Gauteng province
to obtain a better sense of potential clients that the ZTVP might
have to deal with, as well as the proportion of Zimbabweans who
might potentially qualify for assistance in terms of need . That
study found evidence to suggest that there would be an increasing
need to assist Zimbabweans who had been victims of torture residing
in South Africa. To be able to do so, the study concluded that
there was a pressing need to gain a better understanding of the
position and plight of Zimbabweans who have come to South Africa in
search of refuge. It is this need which this brief report seeks to
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