Zimbawe’s Operation Murambatsvina Five Years After

By Novell Zwangendaba – JOHANNESBURG – Solidarity Peace Trust will this Friday launch the Zimbabwe Report, A Fractured Nation, at Devonshire Hotel, in Braamfontein.

The report is an assessment of the effects of Operation Murambatsvina (OM) five years on. It looks at the combined effects of OM and the economic meltdown in the years that followed on the livelihoods and movements of Zimbabweans both within the country and in the diaspora.

The findings show the continuing devastation of that operation and the meltdown of the years that followed and indicates the extent of the damage that needs to be addressed in future development policies. With the renewed threats of xenophobic violence on foreign workers in SA, Zimbabwean and other foreigners are trapped in a desperate vice of violence, desperation and poverty.

Speakers will include Brian Raftopolous the Director of Solidarity Peace Trust, Tara Polzer of Forced Migration Project – Wits University – Johannesburg, Braam Hanekom of the People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) – Western Cape, and Trever Nqwane of Centre for Civil Society – University of Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Operation Murambatsvina (English: Operation Drive Out Trash or Operation Drive Out Rubbish), also officially known as Operation Restore Order, was a large scale Zimbabwean government campaign to forcibly clear slum areas across the country. The campaign started in 2005 and according to United Nations estimates has affected at least 2.4 million people. President Robert Mugabe and other government officials characterized the operation as a crackdown against illegal housing and commercial activities, and as an effort to reduce the risk of the spread of infectious disease in these areas.

However, the campaign was met with harsh condemnation from Zimbabwean opposition parties, church groups, non-governmental organizations, and the wider international community. The United Nations described the campaign as an effort to drive out and make homeless large sections of the urban and rural poor, who comprise much of the internal opposition to the Mugabe administration.