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Harare Regional Official Threatens Another Slum Clearance Campaign

A senior Zimbabwean official threatened Tuesday to launch another urban clean-up campaign along the lines of the 2005 forced eviction and demolition operation which deprived at least 700,000 of the country's poorest residents of their homes or their livelihoods or both, drawing tough criticism from the United Nations.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted Harare Provincial Governor David Karimanzira saying anyone who has built a shack should destroy it or “we might go back to Operation Murambatsvina.” He was referring to the 2005 campaign, Operation Murambatsvina, meaning, in Shona, Operation Drive Out the Trash.

The Herald named Mbare, Gunhill and other populous districts of the capital as areas where squatter camps have sprung up since the 2005 destruction. Karimanzira said residents should seek help from local authorities to meet their housing needs

But Combined Harare Residents Association Chairman Michael Davies said Harare is to blame for the return of the squatters as the housing reconstruction that it launched after Operation Murambatsvina has been a complete failure.

Davies told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe that the renewed threats simply prove the government is at war with its own people.

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