Zimbabwe: 200 NGO's Issue Appeal to the UN

Friday, June 24, 2005

As the human rights situation in Zimbabwe steadily deteriorates, a coalition of more than 200 African and international NGO's today issued an unprecedented Joint Appeal to the United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) to help the people of Zimbabwe. Strongly condemning the mass forced evictions, the coalition of organizations urged Nigerian President Obasanjo, as Chair of the AU, to put the crisis in Zimbabwe on the agenda of the upcoming AU Assembly - scheduled to take place in Libya on July 4/5.
demolition of shantytowns in Zimbabwe

PICTURE: Zimbabwe riot police watch the ongoing destruction of the dwellings of 100,000s of poor people. Courtesy ZimObserver
The coalition also called on relevant bodies at the UN, including the Secretary-General, to publicly condemn the ongoing mass violations and take effective action to stop them. "The appointment of a UN Special Envoy to investigate the mass violations taking place in Zimbabwe is welcome," said a representative of the coalition. "But effective action must also be taken immediately to help those already sleeping on the streets, beside the rubble of their homes - and to ensure that the evictions and demolitions stop immediately. The AU and UN simply cannot ignore such an unprecedented, wide-ranging appeal on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe, particularly from African civil society," said a coalition representative. "African solidarity should be with the people of Africa - not their repressive leaders." Amongst the human rights and civic groups signing the Joint Appeal are Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights, the Inter Africa Network for Human Rights (AFRONET), Amnesty International, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute, and the International Crisis Group.
It does not stop here
Zimbabwe demolition

PICTURE: A small boy looks at what was his former shelter. Courtesy AP
Civil society structures in Zimbabwe have accused President Robert Mugabe of demolishing shacks and market stalls under the pretext of restoring order in the cities to reduce the dominant position of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in urban areas.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokeswoman Bella Matambanadzo said the group believed Mugabe had absorbed the militia youth he previously trained and used to terrorise the countryside during elections into the Zimbabwean police.
These youths were now being used in the campaign in which people's houses and informal trading stores had been razed.
Addressing a conference arranged by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in Johannesburg to discuss the crisis, Matambanadzo said a lack of fuel in Zimbabwe meant that destitute people were forced to carry furniture on their backs as they moved from one town to another searching for shelter, as they could not afford transport costs.
She said more than a million Zimbabweans had been left homeless since the government launched its three operations targeting informal settlement areas.
Themba Nyathi said that the demolitions were designed to hide the Zimbabwean economy's backward slide.
"They are trying to hide the poverty of the people to display false claims that the country's economic reforms are improving the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans."
MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said the campaign was an attempt to punish and intimidate the party's supporters ahead of local government elections, expected to take place within the next two years.
Yesterday police said they were taking the campaign to prosperous suburbs of the capital, where they will target illegal property developments and houses that have been turned into offices.
A further story from Zimdaily:
The ruling Zanu-PF supreme decision making body, the Politburo, met in Harare yesterday to deliberate several issues, mainly the "clean-up" ahead of the United Nations visit which Mugabe is afraid the world would be informed that he violates human rights.
Sources said Mugabe who does not approve of the UN visit ordered the politburo to come up with a plan that would create an impression that Zanu PF is building houses for the people they made homeless.

After the meeting, Mashonal Central governor Mr Ephraim Masawi said the meeting had discussed the setting up of provincial committees that would spearhead construction of houses and factory shells for people affected by Zanu PF's inhuman exercise.
"The demolition is no longer news to us, we are now embarking on the restructuring that is expected to start soon," he said.
He said the party had instructed several ministries to start looking at providing shelter for the people affected by the demolitions.
The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, he said would coordinate the projects at national level while the Minister of Defence would coordinate the activities of all provincial committees with the support of nine other ministries.
Analysts are of the opinion that judging from Zanu PF's history, nothing would be done regarding building houses for the homeless. They just want to appear as if they are doing something to the UN and the out side world.
Meanwhile to confirm Zanu PF's confusion the government yesterday reversed its decision on urban farming saying urban agriculture was not banned but what had been outlawed was stream bank cultivation and farming on undesignated places.
Police and council officials had on Tuesday announced that urban farming had been banned.
"Urban agriculture has not been banned. Government respects its contribution to the national food basket. The ban is not global. It only affects stream bank cultivation and the cultivation on undesignated areas," Zanu PF said.
Many urban dwellers practice subsistence farming with most of their produce for home consumption.

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"Zimbabwe: 200 NGO's Issue Appeal to the UN"


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