Three years ago, under the guise of slum clearance, President Mugabe’s thugs went into the suburbs of Harare and other cities in Zimbabwe and destroyed an estimated 70 000 houses, shops and shacks (aka “illegal businesses”) and made 700 000 people homeless.
According to SW RADIO AFRICA:
The government said it would build 90 000 houses but Amnesty International reported last year that just over 3 000 houses had been built. Amnesty said most of the new houses had no doors, floors, windows and roofs.
Arnold Tsunga, Executive Director of ZLHR, said in the statement: “The use of organized violence and torture by the State against its own people with impunity has gone on for far too long in Zimbabwe. There is no justification for the world to powerlessly watch while ordinary men, women and children are tormented by their own government. It is time to refer this case to the ICC.”
Some critics are wary that some countries like South Africa and China may block this motion, as they have done before in the UN Security Council. But Jean du Plessis said COHRE hoped that the new information in the report provides sufficient evidence that should compel governments in the 15 member Council to realize the gravity of the situation and act.
Now international lawyers say that this was a crime against humanity.
The reason behind “Operation Cleanup” was probably to get back at those who voted against Mugabe in the previous election. Rural areas had been intimidated to vote for him because it was understood that if your village voted against Mugabe, the NGO food aid (which was only distributed with government approval) would be sent elsewhere. And, of course, in some areas Mugabe remained popular.
However it was the suburbs, whose financial independence allowed defiance, that were the problem. And to make it worse, many of these illegal black market shops sold used merchandise and undermined the shops selling cheap poorly made goods from China, a country that is busy propping up Mugabe, with hopes that they will get future stakes in the lucrative mining industry in the future.
For me, it was sort of personal, since two buildings destroyed belonged to friends of mine: an HIV Clinic in a Harare suburb, run by Sister Patricia and Sister Maggie’s convent in a small midland town.
At least these sisters were not made homeless. Sister Patricia managed to restart the clinic, but many of the patients were dispersed and fled to family homes in rural areas, where they no longer can get HIV treatment. And Sister Maggie and the other sisters moved to their rural convent, where, of course, they no longer can run women’s clubs or teach in their city.
But without the ability of western reporters to visit and report freely, the fate of the displaced is mainly unreported.
Yes, we are surviving, writes another friend, but we are like a hyena with three legs… (refering to the proverb).
So people survive on the crops from their small farms, with the help of extended family members, money sent from the large number of economic refugees who fled to South Africa and other countries, and of course with the help of the NGO’s.
The ones hurt the most are those relying on salary, such as teachers and doctors. With inflation approaching 4000%, their salary is useless, and without foreign exchange, medicines often unavailable.
But look at the good news: Mr. Mugabe is spending a couple million dollars to build a museum/shrine in his own honor in his hometown.