The month of May was overshadowed by “Operation Murambatsvina” or “Operation Restore Order” as the Government embarked on an operation to clear the country of illegal settlements and regularize informal trading in urban areas, leading to more than 700 000 people being internally displaced. This operation was said by Government to be a cleaning up process but it left many people homeless and many more without a source of income.
The massive show of force by the Army and Police and the indifference to human suffering exhibited during the operation were castigated by civil society organizations and the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan. Despite the recommendations by the UN that this operation stop immediately, the Government responded informally through the media by discrediting the UN Special Envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, who came to evaluate the operation, calling her a puppet of the British government and further castigating the UN as an organization.
The Human Rights Forum notes that before the envoy came and indeed when she arrived the Government of Zimbabwe did not raise objections to her participation in evaluating the operation. The Forum urges the Government to deal with the issues raised rather than attack the personality of the UN Special Envoy.