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UN Envoy Concludes Mission, EU Envoy Mooted

  • Studio 7

United Nations special envoy Anna Tibaijuka and her team on Friday wrapped up their mission to assess the humanitarian impact of the government slum-clearance program that in seven weeks has left an officially estimated 130,00 families homeless.

Mrs. Tibaijuka’s last stop was in Victoria Falls, a resort town in the country’s far west, where more than 20,000 families are said to have been turned out of their homes.

She concluded her mission with a one-hour meeting with President Robert Mugabe, but gave no indication what her report to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan will say about the home demolition and forced relocation campaign.

Chris Gande of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Sharad Shankardass, Mrs. Tibaijuka’s spokesman, following her meeting with President Mugabe.

An envoy to Harare from the African Union, meanwhile, was back at AU headquarters having failed to obtain authorization from Zimbabwean authorities to carry out his own fact-finding brief. The official Herald newspaper said envoy Bahame Tom Nyanduga’s visit had been “unprocedural,” citing government sources.

The Herald said AU Commission Chairman Alpha Konare, the former Malian president, “expressed regret” about the matter to Zimbabwe’s foreign minister at the AU summit this week. An AU spokesman declined to comment on the Herald report.

But human rights group Amnesty International urged the African Union to challenge Harare over what the group said were “blatantly obstructionist” tactics on the part of Zimbabwean officials to frustrate the good intentions of the AU envoy.

For perspective on these developments, Ndimyake Mwakalyelye spoke with political analyst John Makumbe, a senior lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare.

Following the United Nations and the African Union, the European Parliament has decided to send its own special envoy to Zimbabwe soon on to look into human rights violations. The parliament's resolution to do so will be put before the European Union’s Council of Ministers next week for further action.

The European parliamentarians also resolved that aid should continue to be provided to the Zimbabwean people through nongovernmental organizations.

The representative to the EU of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Grace Kwinjeh, told Patience Rusere of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the EU legislative body also urged that the return of failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers from member states – most notably Britain – should be suspended.