Still no hope for Murambatsvina victims

Some of the victims of the government’s controversial “clean up” exercise of 2005, Operation Murambatsvina, have failed to recover from the trauma and are still living in abject poverty.

The Murambatsvina exercise left many traumatised.
The Murambatsvina exercise left many traumatised.

“I have already lost hope in the future of my children as getting meaningful education has proved a nightmare, said Muchaneta Marwei, a single mother with three children.

“Every night I helplessly submit myself to the Lord for guidance. The government has failed us as it cannot provide alternative and decent accommodation. Poverty and these shacks are what have become of us,” lamented Marwei.

She said watching the bulldozer raze her house to the ground in 2005 was heart rending.

“I knew that was the end of me,” she said.She survives on selling fish supplied by poachers from Lake Chivero.

The exercise saw the demolition of “illegal” settlements and structures across the country. Marwei is not alone in her predicament.

As compensation, government introduced Operation “Garikai, hlalanikuhle” (live well) designed to benefit those whose homes had been demolished.

“Garikai has helped only a few and most of us are living on the promise that looks never to come,” Marwei added.

The victims were moved to areas such as Hopley and Caledonia in the outskirts of Harare, where they live to this day without basic necessities such as schools, clinics, electricity and access to clean water. People still live in plastic shacks.

Regina Mtizwa (69) from Caledonia, who stays with two orphaned grandchildren, said her life had been ruined. Apart from staying in squalid conditions, she walks long distances to fetch firewood from the Granville Cemetery.

University of Zimbabwe lecturer and social commentator, Tawanda Zinyama, said:

“The people will forever rue the exercise because it was haphazardly done.

The national housing backlog stood at more than one million when the government destroyed the accommodation people had built for themselves.

Seven years down the line, the ghosts of Murambatsvina are still haunting many people.”

He said the exercise was a political one – embarked on soon after the 2005 parliamentary elections in areas deemed to be opposition strongholds.

No hope

“Unless there is a paradigm shift from the existing national housing policy, people who were affected by the Murambatsvina madness will forever talk about it without tangible solutions in sight,” Zinyama warned.

“People need a place to stay. The situation is slowly going back to the pre-2005 state of affairs. The tuck shops and illegal structures are resurfacing in areas such as Glen Norah, Mbare and Highfield,” Zinyama added.

Amnesty International Executive Director, Cousin Zilala, said: “We are saying to the government please stop forced eviction and come up with policies that ensure that everyone acquires a house. The illegality of these settlements demonstrates the failed nature of the government.”

Post published in: News

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