Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mugabe made us refugees: Stories from "operation cleanup" refugees

Yesterday was World Refugee Day. Many Zimbabweans have been left homeless and struggling to survive as a result of the government's senseless 'Operation Murambatvina' - a policy of 'clearing out the trash’, which manifested itself in the destruction of homes, trading stalls and the theft of property.

What kind of leaders, are these, who destroy peoples' homes at the height of a harsh winter leaving women and children at the mercy of the elements? What kind of mind conceives such an evil and heartless thought? We asked a supporter to write us a piece that included real-life stories of Murambatsvina refugees in Zimbabwe. Names have been changed in this article....

Since 2005, winter has been characterized with bitter memories of the loss of homes, house hold property, flea markets, offices, the pain from beatings and torture and unfortunate deaths of some loved ones, during another act of madness by Mugabe, the second after Gukurahundi.

Mugabe, Chihuri and Chombo defended “Op M” (Operation Murambatsvina) as a clean up exercise meant to wean the unwanted garbage, which later turned out to be humans in the form of city dwellers, perceived to the sympathetic to the opposition MDC.

Tempers were beginning to boil two months after another rigged 2005 parliamentary election which pitted the ruling Zanu PF party against the MDC, giving the ruling party the required two thirds, to amend the constitution. To counter a possible uprising, Mugabe acting upon intelligence from the JOC (Joint Operation Command) embarked on the operation which not only caused massive sufferings but invited condemnations from the UN and the world over.

Society was disintegrated, those with rural homes leaving towns for good. The remaining folks were with either forcibly moved to unknown places or detention centers where they were quarantined. Sources of income were destroyed and rentals shot to alarming rates, making the cost of living in cities very high. The drama is still unfolding...

Currently in most high-density areas of Harare, families are still sleeping in the open, especially in back yards. Those with houses had their extensions destroyed leaving as much as twelve people in the same family sleeping in two or three roomed houses. Thus the social moral fibre has been eroded since boys and girls are forced to sleep in one room....

go to link for the personal stories.

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