Thursday, September 29, 2005

Living in the wake of Zim's urban "tsunami"


"We live like pigs. No, pigs live better than us. We eat berries from the bush, which is food for baboons. That is our life since the tsunami," said Roderick Tchakayika, a father of five, outside the remains of his neighbours' house, which was knocked down on June 19.

Mr Tchakayika, 48, was talking about what Zimbabweans call their own "tsunami" - a man-made event almost as extreme as the Asian disaster.

The pitiful conditions in the Hatcliffe Extension

It is three months since President Robert Mugabe sent in bulldozers that within hours flattened 4,000 homes in Hatcliffe Extension, about 20 miles north of Harare. Life was hard before; it has since become unbearable.

Most people of this suburb, who all owned "stands" - small patches of land - on which they had built small homes, are living in pitiful circumstances.

Most also lost their incomes as they were largely informal traders, also targets of Mr Mugabe's ''Operation Clean out the Filth'', whom police have been ordered to prevent trading again.

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