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Zimbabwe: Amnesty warns of second round of mass evictions

Operation Murambatsvina

Operation Murambatsvina

Thousands of people in the Zimbabwean capital Harare could  face mass eviction from their market stalls and homes,  according to an alert issued last week by Amnesty international.

Most of the people targeted were already victims of the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina (Restore Order),   a government operation  that left about 700,000 without homes or livelihood in 2005.

A Catholic priest in Harare contacted by CISA described news of the impending eviction as worrying.

“If the City Fathers and Mothers are thinking of moving in with force to remove illegal dwellings, plastic shelters and wooden shacks and drive their occupants away (where to?), we musk ask them to think again,” Fr Oskar Wermter, director of Jesuit Communications, wrote in a newspaper article.

“If you want to do away with slum conditions you must first build proper shelters for them before you send in the police with pickaxes and sledge hammers, bulldozers and heavy trucks. No one chooses to live in slum conditions. It is not the fault of slum dwellers that government went back on its much advertised promise of ‘Housing for all by the year 2000’”.

According to Amnesty, some 200 people from a slum in the suburb of Gunhill and thousands of informal traders across Harare face being forcibly evicted without being given adequate notice or any consultation or due process.

The Deputy Mayor of the Harare City Council stated this month that the city authorities have considered evicting people from illegal settlements and market places to restore order. He claimed that the targeted people were posing a health hazard and violating city by-laws.

Formal unemployment in Zimbabwe is above 90 per cent. The bulk of the urban population, particularly women, survives on informal trade. Further forced evictions would drive these people deeper into poverty. Since Operation Murambatsvina, the city of Harare has repeatedly targeted informal traders, mainly urban poor, seizing their wares and fining
them.

Source: CISA