Archbishop's report exposes Zimbabwean homelessness debacle

Nothing has been done by the Zimbabwean Government to re-house 700,000 people made homeless as a result of a botched housing "clean up" demolition operation, according to a devastating report released by Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo.

The report, which was prepared by the Solidarity Peace Trust and chaired by Archbishop Ncube reveals the desperate plight of Zimbabwe's homeless following President Robert Mugabe's "Operation Murambatsvina", Independent Catholic News reports.

President Mugabe in May last year ordered the police and the army to demolish thousands of city backyard cottages, shantytowns and informal business kiosks saying this was necessary to smash crime and to restore the beauty of Zimbabwean cities.

As well as the homeless, the operation had also "destroyed the livelihoods of an estimated 90,000 vendors," the report said.

The Archbishop said the United Nations had been unable to carry out its emergency housing program because it was being obstructed by the government's land policies.

He said: " The survivors of Operation Murambatsvina are living in desperately overcrowded conditions. Zimbabwe now has 70 per cent unemployment, a near 1,000 per cent inflation rate and acute shortages of food, fuel and basic commodities.

"The government had failed to live up to its promises. They themselves said that they would construct 300,000 houses.

"They've constructed a few hundred houses and none of them have been occupied."

Economic analysts had previously warned at the time that the re-construction program would flop because the Harare government did not have cash, a ReliefWeb report added.

But Zimbabwean government officials immediately rejected the report with State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa telling the BBC that the report was "absolutely not true".

About three million people or a quarter of Zimbabwe's 12 million people were either directly or indirectly affected by the demolitions last May.

Zimbabwe: Churches say Mugabe's clean-up victims still without shelter (ReliefWeb, 30/8/06)
Report reveals desperate plight of Zimbabwe's homeless (Independent Catholic News, 31/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Solidarity Peace Trust
Archbishop Pius Ncube (Wikipedia)
Archdiocese of Bulawayo

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1 Sep 2006