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UN-Habitat Assessment Team Reaches Harare

A four-member United Nations technical team has arrived in Harare in advance of the special envoy sent by Secretary General Kofi Annan to examine conditions in Zimbabwe following the government’s crackdown on marginal housing known as Operation Murambatsvina. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, head of the Nairobi-based U.N. Habitat agency, was expected shortly. Ms. Tibaijuka will report to the Secretary General on housing conditions – but Studio 7 understands from other sources that her brief is broader than the issue of housing conditions alone.

U.N. Habitat spokesman Sharad Shankardass told Studio 7 that the technical team will compile an initial assessment, and that the team could be reinforced if this is deemed necessary. Despite the arrival of the U.N. team, the state has not stopped demolishing houses. Police were destroying homes in Sunningdale, several kilometers from the hotel in which the technical team was staying.

U.N. Habitat spokesman Shankardass spoke with reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe about the team’s composition.

Meanwhile, Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said Harare welcomes the UN envoy, but warned that the government will not tolerate an assessment of conditions that reflects a pro-Western bias.

Mr. Matonga spoke with reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe.