Friday, July 15, 2005

Mugabe defends demolitions


The government has said the campaign, called "Operation Restore Order," was intended to clean up cities and help end crime and illegal trading in foreign currency and scarce commodities. It has been extended to more affluent areas.

And my friends report that rural markets have also been destroyed...

Mugabe said the government was moving swiftly to provide houses for those affected by the operation.

"Let's move as quickly as we can, so that people can see that in areas where land was subdivided into plots...houses have now arisen," said Mugabe.

Hmmm...did he suddenly import thirty thousand mobile homes? building houses takes time...and building a decent house might take a day, and longer for the electricity, water, and windows to be placed.

"There will be joy on the part of those who did not have homes, joy on the part of those who had homes which could not accommodate fully their families. Let's bring about that joy and we shall erase this image of a Zimbabwe that is in ruins."

Easy to say, hard to do...

The crackdown took place against the backdrop of a deepening economic crisis marked by acute shortages of foreign currency, fuel and food.

But if he built all those houses, he must have a lot of bricks...and cement...and wood...and glass...and tiles...and pipes...and electric cables...

Here is the story from the other side:


BULAWAYO, 14 July (IRIN) - With a child tied on her back and a plate in her right hand, Florence Chilufya joins a winding food queue in an overcrowded yard at a township in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city.

Although children, the elderly and the terminally ill are given first preference, the 39-year-old widow is confident that she will get a helping. "We have two meals a day: we eat in the morning and in the evening. There are many of us and, at times, if you are at the back of the queue you seem to panic, thinking that the food will get finished before you are served but everyone always gets something," Chilufya said. She is among the estimated 375,000 left homeless by the cleanup campaign launched in mid-May, which the authorities have claimed was part of an urban renewal strategy that will eventually build 10,000 homes at a cost of US $300 million.

Let's see...375 thousand homeless, and they plan to build 10,000 homes...that means each home would need to house 37 people...

Again, a history lesson, from the book The Reason Why...discusses the landlord in county Mayo who saw the overcrowding on his property, and decided the people would do better if these numerous people on tiny plots were replaced by small farmers with decent sized plots and more modern farming when the potato famine came, and his Irish tenants couldn't pay the rent, they merely tore down the houses and threw them out...

And 150 years later, those of us descended from the survivors of county Mayo (myself, and Bob Geldolf) remember our don't expect us to welcome Mugabe's fancy plans that ignore the suffering of the displaced poor...

And just as an FYI: When I traveled in County mayo, much of the land has no farms, but is now forest. So much for hard hearted utopian economic planning.

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