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'Meltdown' Continues Among Zimbabwe's Poor, Church Group Concludes

The government of Zimbabwe has built only a handful of houses to replace the homes demolished in the state's 2005 demolition drive known as Operation Murambatsvina, according to a report released in Johannesburg Wednesday by the Solidarity Peace Trust, whose leaders include Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo.

A year after the government called a halt to Operation Murambatsvina under pressure from the international community, the report says that a “meltdown” continues among Zimbabwe's urban poor and that “the situation on the ground remains dire.”

It said the informal business sector has been left in “misery and disarray” following the destruction of thousands of vendor stalls in the 2005 demolition drive.

The document says just a handful of homes have been built under Operation Garikai, Shona for "Live Well," the government's reconstruction program, and these have been "surrounded by scandal” as most have been allocated to ruling party supporters.

The report contends that of the 100,000 people left homeless by the state in Western Zimbabwe, “not one person has yet been officially housed.”

The group recommends the international community fund home construction working with "the more accountable" local authorities and civic organizations. To revive the informal sector it urges the construction of vending markets across the country.

The Harare government immediately challenged the group's findings. State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa was quoted by the BBC as saying everyone in the country is considered for replacement housing and that many have benefited already.

But Anglican Bishop Rubin Phillip of South Africa, who shares the chairmanship of the Solidarity Peace Trust with Bulawayo prelate Ncube, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 that the report reflects what has happened to Zimbabwe's poor.

More reports from Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...