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Senior UNDP Official Measures Progress Housing Zimbabwe's Evicted

A senior United Nations Development Program official has come to Zimbabwe to look at the continuing effects of the 2005 eviction and demolition campaign mounted by the state, which called it Operation Murambatsvina, Shona for "Drive Out Rubbish."

Gilbert Hounbgo, director of UNDP's Africa regional bureau, had scheduled a news conference Tuesday but canceled it for a meeting with Zimbabwean officials.

Sources said the UNDP is pressing Harare for action on housing. The government last year refused to allow tents to be used to provide temporary shelter for Murambatsvina victims, and at one point demanded a model temporary home be destroyed.

Harare has promised to provide replacement housing through its Operation Garikai, or "Live Well" in Shona, but nongovernmental organizations and other sources say the program has stalled due to a shortage of funds and corruption at all levels.

President Robert Mugabe launched a new Rural Housing Delivery Program Monday. The state-controlled Herald newspaper said the government launched the program to “accelerate housing provision in rural areas."

Spokesman Fambai Ngirande of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that launching another housing project is only likely to plunge Harare into deeper problems while thousands of Murambatsvina victims remain without adequate shelter.

Parliamentarian Nomalanga Khumalo, who represents Umzingwane, in Matabeleland South, for the Movement for Democratic Change faction of Arthur Mutambara, said she has reservations about the new housing project launched in her constituency, adding that the UNDP official was not likely to be impressed with it.

More reports from VOA'S Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...