Skip to comments.Zimbabwe slum destruction said disastrous (UN report demands that those responsible be punished)
Posted on 07/21/2005 9:09:19 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - A U.N. report condemned Zimbabwe's government for destroying urban slums in a "disastrous venture" that has left 700,000 people without homes or jobs, and demanded that those responsible be punished, according to excerpts obtained late Thursday.
The report, to be released Friday morning, said a further 2.4 million people have been affected in varying degrees by the countrywide campaign in which thousands of shantytowns, ramshackle markets and makeshift homes have been demolished.
Operation Murambatsvina, or Drive Out Trash, has been "carried out in an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering," said the report's executive summary, obtained by The Associated Press.
The report, using language unusually harsh for the United Nations, called for the government to stop the destruction immediately. It said the operation clearly violated international law.
It did not assign blame for the destruction, saying only that it was launched on the advice of a few people who were not identified. Yet, it suggests that the act might qualify as a crime against humanity and urged Zimbabwe to prosecute those responsible.
President Robert Mugabe's government has defended the operation as an urban cleanup drive, and has promised to help the displaced rebuild. Zimbabwe's opposition says it is aimed at breaking up its strongholds among the urban poor and forcing them into rural areas where they can be more easily controlled by chiefs sympathetic to the government.
But the report said that even if the operation is an urban cleanup drive, the campaign - which some have called Operation Restore Order - has been a "crash" operation that will take years for Zimbabwe to recover from.
"Even if motivated by a desire to ensure a semblance of order in the chaotic manifestations of rapid urbanization and rising poverty characteristic of African cities, nonetheless Operation Restore Order turned out to be a disastrous venture," the report said.
On Wednesday, police raided nine churches in Zimbabwe's second-largest city of Bulawayo, rounding up people sheltering there since their homes were destroyed. Between 50 and 100 people were arrested at each, said the Rev. Kevin Thompson of the city's Presbyterian Church.
"It was pretty brutal and horrific," he said. "They had elderly folk, and they were piling them onto vehicles; they were frog-marching children ... who had been asleep, and Bulawayo is very cold at the moment."
While not outright demanding an independent inquiry, the report suggests that such a probe could help determine if there was criminal negligence leading to any deaths. The Zimbabwe government was given the final report on Wednesday but has made no public comment so far.
Zimbabwe has pledged $325 million to provide 1.2 million houses or building plots by 2008 but the report said economists have expressed doubt that the government can afford such a project at a time when Zimbabwe is wracked by triple-digit inflation and in the throes of a severe food crisis.
The report was compiled by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, who spent two weeks in Zimbabwe studying the effects of the campaign. She delivered the report to Annan earlier this week.
Tibaijuka's report said the campaign was based on a set of colonial-era laws and policies "that were used as a tool of segregation and social exclusion."
"There is an urgent need to suspend these outdated laws and to review them within the briefest time possible" to make sure the humanitarian response doesn't fade and people are given new homes and livelihoods, she said.
"The humanitarian consequences of Operation Restore Order are enormous," she said. Tibaijuka said Zimbabwe needs shelter, food, health services, and other essential goods.
Tibaijuka, the Tanzanian head of Nairobi-based U.N. Habitat which deals with the plight of cities, has said she would dispatch an officer to help Zimbabwe meet its housing needs. In the report, she called for a massive international humanitarian operation to help the masses of poor people left without housing or jobs.
Associated Press reporter Edith M. Lederer contributed to this story.
Demands after the fact... where have we seen this before? Rwanda ring a bell!!!
U.N.: "STOP! or we'll say STOP! again."
How to despoil a nation .. by Robert Mugabe
Coming soon from a war crime report print shop near you.
By "those responsible," he must mean "leftists in the West who prop up these tinpot tyrants."
And who, exactly, is going to punish them?
Well, there are a bunch of leftist peaceniks running around europe. What say we send them down there to stop this whole thing and show us how it works.
What a terrible place for those people, but the UN saying someone needs to be punished is equivilent to "Peace in our time."
Sir Robert Mugabe, who else?
These aren't people to Mugabe they're his opposition and therefore "trash." He expects them to die of exposure or starvation and failing that, disbursed where they'll be more pliable and "agreeable" to his reign.
"And who, exactly, is going to punish them?"
You know, of course, that in the UN's weird world of accountability, this will wind up being America's fault.