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Harare Continues Demolitions, Forced Resettlements

Despite the presence in Harare of a U.N. special envoy and eight staff weighing the impact of Harare’s aggressive clean-up campaign, Operation Murambatsvina (“Drive Out Rubbish”) and its successor, Operation Garikai (“Settle and Prosper”) continue. Police began evicting hundreds of people from Porta Farm, a squatter camp about 30 kilometers south of Harare. Those now being turned out of the former commercial farm were left homeless by official demolitions on Tuesday, despite court orders prohibiting such an operation. VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe aired a report from Thomas Chiripasi on these developments.

Elsewhere, sources said authorities have rounded up hundreds of people displaced by the state operation and taken them by truck to undetermined locations. Civil society and humanitarian sources told Studio 7 that more than 50 army trucks were taking displaced people out of the Caledonia Farm transit camp to make room for others evicted from Porta Farm 70 kilometers from Harare.

These sources said police and soldiers told people being evicted from Porta Farm to leave behind their household goods so they could be sold for funds which would be used to feed them at Caledonia Farm. National Director Ellen Sawyer of the Human Rights NGO Forum said such relocations have made it much harder to assess the scope of the operation. The organization issued a report Wednesday on the operation, entitled “Order Out of Chaos or Chaos Out of Order,” detailing what the Forum said are massive human rights violations.

Meanwhile, representatives of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights went to Porta Farm to assess the situation. Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 interviewed human rights lawyer Rangu Nyamurundira, who has been monitoring the government’s campaign of demolitions and relocations.