The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum welcomes the timeous publication of the report on the recent “Operation Murambatsvina” (Restore Order) by the UN Special Envoy and her team. The Report records the effects of the humanitarian disaster inflicted on the poorest and most vulnerable sections of the population in the height of winter and purportedly in the interests of arresting disorderly or chaotic urbanization, reversing inappropriate urban agricultural practices and stopping illegal foreign currency dealings.
The Secretary General of the United Nations himself describes “Operation Murambatsvina” as a “catastrophic injustice carried out indiscriminately and with disquieting indifference to human suffering”. In her “profoundly distressing report”, the Envoy records that the Operation “render (ed) people homeless and economically destitute on an unprecedented scale” and that “in addition to the already significant pre-existing humanitarian needs, additional needs have been generated on a large scale particularly in the shelter, water, sanitation and health sectors”
The Operation was carried out in a military fashion by armed police and the Army with minimal notification from the authorities and in contravention of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Zimbabwe is a signatory. Credible reports indicate that evictions are continuing in certain areas and that displaced persons are being harassed by the police and Army.
An “estimated 700 000 people in cities across the country lost either their homes, their source of livelihood or both”, which has indirectly “affected 2.4 million people in varying degrees”
While the Zimbabwe Government is said to have permitted unfettered access by the Mission to all areas, its response to the report has been characteristically critical, dismissive and accusatorial.
The Human Rights Forum would like to congratulate the Mission on the speed with which the exhaustive report was prepared and the sincerity and professionalism with which the Envoy and her team conducted their wide and energetic consultations with all stakeholders in Zimbabwe.
The Human Rights Forum calls on the Government to implement the recommendations of the Report with the utmost urgency in order to address the humanitarian crisis “Operation Murambatsvina” has left in its wake.