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Opposition Sees Divide-and-Rule Strategy by Harare

As Zimbabweans and the outside world assess the impact of Operation Murambatsvina, one question that remains to be answered is exactly why the state decided to turn the country upside down. Studio 7 has spoken with a number of figures in the government and ruling party who maintain that urban planning and public health motivated such extreme measures. But critics see less altruistic motives at work, charging that Operation Murambatsvina was intended to traumatize and demoralize members of the largely urban-based opposition, and drive its most vulnerable members into rural isolation the better to control them.

Though the operation has affected much of the country, the poor have hurt most. Some say the government targeted the poor as the most vulnerable segment of its opposition. They point to the mass stay-away earlier this month, maintaining that it was ineffective because the crackdown did not touch the middle class directly. Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye interviewed a number of observers and political activists on this point, starting with information officer Rutendo Hadebe of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition. Ms. Hadebe, expressing her personal opinion, contended that the government from the start was employing a divide-and-rule strategy.