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Security Council Hears Special Envoy to Zimbabwe

Members of the United Nations Security Council deliberated Wednesday whether the 15-member panel should take up the report on Zimbabwe’s destructive slum clearance program prepared by special envoy Anna Tibaijuka. China and other members objected, but Britain mustered enough support under a special rule to bring Mrs. Tibaijuka before the Security Council to brief it on her findings.

However, U.N. sources said the Zimbabwe question had not formally gone on the Security Council agenda, and the elite panel was not seized of the matter.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary general declined to comment in any detail on a report by the state-controlled Herald newspaper which quoted the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, as saying that Mrs. Tibaijuka had been pressured to deliver a negative report on Harare’s home demolition drive.

The Herald quoted remarks by Mr. Mugabe in a speech delivered in Beijing. Mr. Mugabe said Mrs. Tibaijuka had confided in him that “certain people had been planted in her assessment team to ensure that the report was damning.” His counterattack was supported by remarks on similar lines by five ministers.

VOA’s U.N. correspondent, Peter Heinlein, asked spokesman Stephen Dujarric of the secretary general’s office for comment on the Herald report.

For additional perspective on the counter-offensive that President Mugabe and his administration seem to be pursuing, reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Princeton Lyman, director of African policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Mr. Lyman is a U.S. ambassador to South Africa and Nigeria, and has served as an assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs.

Elsewhere, Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is asking the U.N. to launch an investigation into human rights violations in the country in addition to the report by Mrs. Tibaijuka, which focused on the humanitarian repercussions of Operation Murambatsvina (Shona for “Drive Out Rubbish”).

Reporter Patience Rusere of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe caught up with Mr. Tsvangirai to ask him why he has described Zimbabwe as a “criminal state.”

More stories from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe