A survey by London-based ActionAid International shows Operation Murambatsvina, the Zimbabwean government’s campaign to demolish unauthorized urban housing, had a much larger impact on the population that previous studies had indicated.
The report, carried out in collaboration with the Combined Harare Residents Association and the Zimbabwe Peace Project, is based on interviews with more than 23,000 people in Harare, the capital, and five other cities including Bulawayo, Mutare, border town Beitbridge, tourist destination Victoria Falls, and Kariba, in the northeast.
The report concludes that the the operation affected nearly 1.2 million people, many more than the July report submitted by United Nations special envoy Anna Tibaijuka to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, which was highly critical of the operation.
In an interview conducted by reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, ActionAid’s Zimbabwe program director, Ian Mashingaidze, explained the differences between the latest survey and the Tibaijuka report.
Since the Tibaijuka report came out last month, U.N. organizations have been trying to reach out to those left destitute by Operation Murambatsvina, but have found it difficult to do so, especially in the countryside. U.N. organizations and their local partners also have security concerns, U.N. and other humanitarian officials say.
The U.N. resident coordinator for Zimbabwe, Dr. Agostinho Zacarias, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he is now working to establish a memorandum of understanding with the Harare government that would provide for unrestricted access to the many thousands in need of humanitarian aid.