Amnesty: Zim unity govt has failed eviction victims

Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Zimbabwe’s unity government of failing to provide for victims of a mass eviction blitz five years ago that left 700 000 people destitute.

Amnesty and the Coalition of Forced Evictions, made up of Zimbabwean groups, called on the government to provide alternative housing or compensation to people left homeless and jobless by Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Filth).

“It is a scandal that five years on, victims are left to survive in plastic shacks without basic essential services,” said Amnesty’s Zimbabwe director, Cousin Zilala, in a statement.

“The deplorable living conditions and struggle for survival … reveal the government’s failure to address ongoing injustices against some of the most vulnerable members of Zimbabwean society.”

A rehousing scheme seems to have been abandoned, with the few houses built uninhabitable, without floors, windows, or sanitation, while people in resettlement areas depend on aid and self-help initiatives, said the groups.

Victims of the campaign who remained in cities were still vulnerable to evictions, they added.

“Since its creation in February 2009, the unity government has done nothing to improve the plight of survivors of the forced evictions and their children who have been born in informal settlements,” said the statement.

Lorraine Mupasiri of Combined Harare Residents’ Association said the evictions caused overcrowding in the capital, with as many as three families sharing a four-roomed house.

“We are particularly concerned about the rising housing backlog in Harare. More than half-a-million people are on the waiting list,” she said.

Operation Murambatsvina was launched by President Robert Mugabe’s government in May 2005. — Sapa-AFP

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