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Zimbabwe Foreign Minister Dismisses UN Report as Biased

Zimbabwe Minister of Foreign Affairs Simbarashe Mumbengegwi dismissed the report issued Friday by the United Nations special envoy sent to Zimbabwe to look into the impact of Harare’s drive to level all homes and business premises deemed illegal, telling journalists that the report was biased.

Mr. Mumbengegwi said the government did not accept the contents of the report submitted to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan by envoy Anna Tibaijuka as an accurate account of Operation Restore Order, the drive against informal businesses that started May 19, and Operation Murambatsvina, or “Drive Out Rubbish,” which quickly followed and left many thousands homeless.

Mrs. Tibaijuka’s scathing report characterized the government operations as “a disastrous venture” that was “carried out in an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering.” It said the government crackdown repeatedly breached national and international legal standards.

Briefing the U.N. press corps on Friday, Mrs. Tibaijuka declined to assign blame to President Robert Mugabe. She said she did not find “evidence on the ground that this was a planned program by the whole government of Zimbabwe.”

Her report cited evidence that the operation “was based on improper advice by a few architects of the operation.” Mrs. Tibaijuka told reporters she was “convinced that those people…have to be brought to account” while Harare needed “to be encouraged to find the courage and put things right” with reparations.

Patience Rusere of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked correspondent David Mutomba, who attended the Harare news conference, for details.

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