HomeLocal250 squatters made 'homeless' again

250 squatters made ‘homeless’ again

Grace Kombora

PRISON officers and members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police this week evicted more than 250 homeless people who had set up makeshift homes at an open space at Tsiga Grounds in Mbare. They have

been moved to Hopley Farm.

The homeless people were living in a poor section of the suburb after government demolished their homes in a controversial urban clean-up campaign in May.

The initial blitz on informal urban settlements was roundly condemned by the United Nations, Western governments, and local and international human rights groups as a gross violation of people’s rights.

The families were rounded up around 2am and loaded in police trucks and Harare council vehicles without prior notice.

Most families lost their meagre belongings during the process, leaving them to pick up broken remnants.

The evictees where dumped at Hopley Estate where they are under tight security and living in an open space.

Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights are assisting the evictees with the legal paperwork. The lawyers are currently preparing heads of arguments for a contempt of court violation.

“This is actually disgusting. It just shows the nastiness of the whole thing,” a lawyer with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said.

“The reason why the police carried out their operation at 2am was a deliberate plan to dodge the law in their illegal activities. This is a clear contempt of court.”

The High Court last month issued a provisional order for the Tsiga residents not to be moved.

“The action by the police undermines the independence of the judiciary because they simply ignored a previous court order. This is frustrating,” the legal group said.

The families were removed barely a week after the police launched Operation Hatidzokereshure, ostensibly to rid the city of illegal activities.

A special United Nations envoy is set to visit Zimbabwe next month to assess the government’s clean-up and reconstruction programme.

Most victims of the May operation are living in poverty after they were dumped by the government following the demolition of their shanty homes, backyard cottages and flea markets.

The government is failing to feed and accommodate the homeless, a situation that prompted UN chief Kofi Annan to criticise Mugabe’s government for its obstinacy in refusing international humanitarian assistance.

Annan said he would be sending UN relief co-ordinator Jan Egeland to Zimbabwe early next month to assess the extent of the humanitarian crisis afflicting the country.

US ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell two weeks ago raised the ire of government when he said in a speech that the economic crisis in the country was a result of corrupt rule and mismanagement.

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