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    Zimbabwe Parliament debate on Operation Murambatsvina - Page 1
    Extracted from Hansard Vol. 32, No. 5
    Parliament of Zimbabwe

    June 23, 2005

    View list of 2005 Zimbabwe Parliamentarians

    Jump to contributions by:
    - MR MUSHORIWA
    - MR. MZILA NDLOVU
    - MR. MUTSEKWA
    - THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE (MR. CHIHOTA)
    - MR. SIKHALA
    - MR. MUGABE
    - MR. MZEMBI
    - MISS STEVENSON
    - THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND PUBLICITY (MR. MATONGA)
    - MR. COLTART

    MOTION

    OPERATION MURAMBATSVINA/RESTORE ORDER

    MR MUSHORIWA : I move the motion standing in my name, that:-

    CONCERNED with the massive destruction of people’s homes, markets and livelihoods under the vehicle of the so-called Operation Murambatsvina;

    DISTURBED AND SHOCKED at the abuse of the rule of law, breach of the Constitution, international standards on the right to housing, the right to life, the rights of the children and the rights against forced evictions;

    SHOCKED by the callousness of the State actions, particularly in the context of the current economic crisis, the ravaging winter and the massive food shortage;

    DISMAYED at the total abuse of the local authorities and disrespect of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) and the Regional Town and Country Planning Act (Chapter 29:12);

    CONDEMNS AND CENSORS in the strongest terms the State actions in respect of Operation Murambatsvina;

    CALLS on Government to immediately stop and cease the aforesaid operation;

    RESOLVES that Government abide by the international standards, the constitution and the rule of law;

    CALLS on Government to comprehensively address the issue of national housing and in general the current structural economic crises;

    CALLS on Government to urgently provide basic amenities and decent living standards to the victims of the current operation.

    MR. MZILA NDLOVU: I second

    MR. MUSHORIWA: Mr Speaker, I am just coming from the constituency and you are aware that today being a typical June day, the weather is unbearable. There have been some drizzles and I think all hon. members in this House are putting on jackets. This is all because of the weather that we have. This morning something unbelievable happened. I went to the constituency around 5 a.m. after 75 police vehicles came into Dzivarasekwa constituency with heavily armed policemen and bulldozers. What is shocking is that those heavily armed policemen were coming to face innocent civilians of the Dzivarasekwa constituency.

    Madam Speaker, you have a house and all of us here are coming from our own homes. We all had a good night sleep but this is not so for people in Dzivarasekwa constituency. Sadly, it is the same story for most people in other parts of the country. Most of them do not have houses - no room and no place to call their own. One wonders what wrong these people could have committed. It is unfortunate, especially if one looks at the current situation in this country because since 1980 when this country got independence - our fathers and brothers who perished during the war of the key reasons why they went to war, was to address the question of housing for all Zimbabweans be it Karanga or Zezuru.

    Only a few benefited whilst the majority of the people are living like strangers in their own country. This country has been independent since 1980 under one political party. 25 years being led by one man - years as a Prime Minister and 18 years as an Executive President. Nothing has ever happened. You cannot say Madam Speaker, from 1980 up to 2005, there has been a change of Government. There has been one Government since 1980. - [HON. MEMBERS: inaudible interjections]

    THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order.

    MR. MUSHORIWA: The statistics that are there - Harare as we know it today, during the time of the Smith regime, quite a number of houses were built. Most of the suburbs that we see today be it Mabuku, Mufakose all those suburbs came about during the Smith regime and in 1978/79 Bishop Abel Muzorewa, notwithstanding the fact that Zimbabwe /Rhodesia lasted for years, has managed to build houses in Dzivarasekwa and many other places.

    This Government has failed since 1980 to construct or build a single house for the poor people of this country. The only people who have benefited are the elite people of this country. Madam Speaker, I challenge Hon Kangai to show me a single suburb where the Government built even a single house and gave it to the poor people of this country. It is clear and well documented that the only time when this Government acted in terms of housing is when this Government introduced the pay for your house scheme, the one for civil servants. Do you know what happened Madam Speaker? That scheme failed dismally and as we speak right now, civil servants and the many people who were supposed to benefit are in the open and only the elite, most of whom are seated in this House, benefited. The poor did not benefit.

    The other time when this Government moved to address the question of housing is during the CHOGM meeting and also during the time when Queen Elizabeth visited this country. The Government of Zimbabwe ashamed and also afraid that the Heads of Government were going to see lots of people who were homeless went around Mbare and other areas rounding up people and dumped them at Porta farm, Dzivarasekwa Extension and Hatcliffe Extension. During that time we were told that these were transitional camps - they were only going to be there on a temporary basis but 15 years down the line Madam Speaker, these people are still there in those squatter camps.

    One wonders especially more so when you hear that there is Caledonia farm which has been put there on a temporary basis.

    This Government signed a number of protocols and treaties. The key thing is the Universal Declaration on Human Rights including the African Charter which guarantees every human being -no matter how poor, the right to housing, the right to protection of family by State as well as protection from inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as the deprivation to property.

    Madam Speaker, there are several things which have happened in the past three weeks or so. Initially, when this programme was started, the question was that we wanted to clean the cities. What they did is that all the flea markets were closed. They said these flea markets were promoting the foreign exchange parallel market. What we need to understand is that -where did those flea markets come from? Were did all those informal businesses in town come from? They are there as a result of only one thing; there is no longer a viable formal sector. This is a result of the poor macro-economic policies pursued by this Government. What has happened is that there is no formal sector to talk of. The level of unemployment in this country is well above 80% and because of that, many of those people who were formally employed had to go back and start to employ themselves.
    The funny thing is that the Government went around without even due notice to close the flea markets. Even down there, the vendors who used to sell flowers were chased away. The question is what crime had they committed?

    The other aspect is the question of the rubbish and rubbles. Where was Government when all this rubbish was accumulating? The Government has been there since 1980. It was the same Government in 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2005. Are we saying that the Government - starting from the President and Cabinet, they were not even seeing what was happening? They were there and they were seeing everything from build up to the current situation. I think there are reasons behind such arbitrary moves by the Government to come up such heavy-handedness on the people of this country.

    Madam Speaker, I am going raise one or two issues pertaining to international treaties which this Government signed and some of the universally accepted standards in the manner in which a Government is supposed to treat its people, especially when it relates to the question of the need or right of everybody to have proper housing. The United Nations General Comments Number 4 of 1991and number 7 of 1997 stipulates certain procedures which a Government must follow to remove people, the certain steps which they are to undertake. First of all, the State must ensure prior to carrying out any eviction that all alternatives have been explored in consultation with people. The people in Dzivarasekwa, Mufakose, Mabvuku and St. Marys were never given any chance by the Government. The only thing which happened was that we only saw the police coming to destroy the people's cottages. One wonders why the Government did not give these people notice, they failed to do that.

    There is also another ironic aspect which is the timing of demolition of these structures. They waited until June, July and this is the winter season. The temperatures are just low and it is cold out there. The Government went on and destroyed people's homes leaving many people stranded. As I speak there are more than 5 000 families inn Dzivarasekwa living on the roads, they do not have any accommodation. Those few who want to go to Mutoko to Chapfika's constituency, will tell you that there is no transport to ferry them to Mutoko because this Government has failed to manage this country properly. Hon. Chapfika who is the Deputy Minister of Finance will agree with me that there is no fuel. They have dismally failed to manage this country.

    The second aspect which the Government was supposed to do was to make sure that there were legal remedies or procedures to be provided to those affected by eviction orders along with adequate compensation for property. The damage not only in terms of structures themselves, I am talking of households, wardrobes, beds and many others. Today it has been raining and even right now it raining - all the beds, blankets and mattresses are being destroyed. If the Government was so sincere about the question of Murambatsvina - I was being asked by people of my constituency why the police would come and destroy cottages when sewage were overflowing in Dzivarasekwa and there are heaps of rubbish. If we are talking of Murambatsvina, Government should try to address those issues which are a health hazard.

    Thirdly, in cases where evictions are considered justified, they should be carried out in strict compliance with relevant provisions of international human rights laws and the general principles of reasonableness and proportionate. I have never seen a Government which can treat its own people in this manner. Only a few weeks ago, an Hon. member of this House had the guts to address people on a public fora, having been voted by those people boasting that we as ZANU PF do not give regard who you are, we will go and destroy. It was none other than Patrick Zhuwao. The point I am making is that there is a suburb which had came up called Whitecliffe along Bulawayo Road. If you go there today it has been destroyed. Those people in Whitecliffe during the March elections 2000, 4000 of the votes which Hon. Zhuwao got came from those people came from those people and after having voted him, he stood up and started abusing the very same people that brought him into Parliament - [ HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections ]

    THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. members on both sides.

    MR. MUSHORIWA: Evictions should never result in rendering individuals homeless or vulnerable or to the violation of other human rights. Government must therefore ensure that adequate alternative housing or resettlement is made available for those affected people.

    We heard yesterday the Hon. Minister of Justice saying that we are resettling those people at Caledonia farm as a temporary facility. That was a response to the question by Hon. Sikhala. With regards to those people whose parents came from Malawi or Mozambique, who do not even know any other country except Zimbabwe - a child in 1980 who could afford to sleep with his parents in a two-roomed house in Dzivarasekwa, twenty-five years down the line, that kid has grown up and some are actually married. To really think that, that kid should continue to live with his parents is actually asking for a lot of things. It shows the insensitivity of this Government with regards to the welfare of the people of this country.

    As we speak right now, we do not know how many children out there have died due to the cold or pneumonia. We do not know how many people have bee psychologically affected because what is happening is just to show you the un-primed manner in which this Government operates. In 2000, during the height of the farm invasions, the Minister of Local Government, Dr. Ignatius Chombo moved around town, centres and the like, addressing groups of people who were forming their co-operatives. He even went around commissioning the structures which were being built by those people. I will give you a good example. In Kambuzuma, Dr. Chombo went there. In Dzivarasekwa and quiet a number of areas, Dr. Chombo went and addressed the people and encouraged the people to continue building those structures.

    In 2001, the then Minister of Home Affairs who is now the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. John Nkomo ordered the destruction of the structures in Kambuzuma and airport. And you know what happened? He was told to stop that action and those people were told to continue building and they built big houses. The unfortunate thing is that even the staff of this Parliament of Zimbabwe were even told by the Minister of Local Government to go and build structures there. But then, what happened Madam Speaker? All the money invested in those structures has gone up in smoke simply because the Government has ordered the police to go and destroy those structures.

    Now the question which comes is that what drives this Government? Is this Government so interested in their safety, in their own power to the detriment of the welfare of people? What is happening is that the people whom the Government used, that is the war veterans whom they used during the campaigning period are now back into what they were twenty-five years ago. In 1979, we know that war veterans were sleeping in the bush and twenty-five years after independence, they are now back in the bush simply because of this Government which have destroyed their homes.

    The question of removing people from where they are was once done in South Africa. What happened is the case taken to court and the Supreme Court of South Africa ruled out that is not proper for the Government of South Africa to carry such an illegal eviction of the people without providing alternative accommodation and there was need to justify to the court that there was need to use that land for alternative purposes. But what is happening in Zimbabwe as we speak right now, is not a question of cleaning the city, no. If it was a question of cleaning the city, surely, it could have been done in a proper manner. You do not need to clean Dzivarasekwa by sending 300 heavily armed police officers to clean Dzivarasekwa. It just shows that this is an act of vindictiveness, an emotional reaction to an issue. The question which the people of Harare and other cities are asking is; what crime have we committed? There are several reasons which one can point at. The first issue is the fact that Government is aware that it is no longer popular with the people of this country. It is aware that even after rigging the elections, Hon. Chipanga you know that the people in your constituency no longer want you. The other aspect . . .

    THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, can you withdraw that statement about rigging elections.

    MR. MUSHORIWA: All I wanted to show is that . . .

    THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Just withdraw the statement.

    MR. MUSHORIWA: I withdraw Madam Speaker. What I was saying is that the general feeling in towns is that they feel as if they are being punished for having decided to vote for change and to vote for progress in this country. The other aspect which is very clear is that as we speak right now, there is no fuel. If you go into the supermarkets today, the rate at which prices are increasing is alarming. Now the Government wants the people to shift their attention from the economic decay and they want top create other avenues where people can go. I think it is unfair and it is wrong for the people of this country to be treated that way.

    The problem that we have right now, as we speak, if you talk of Caledonia farm, I do not know how many people have been resettled there. I told you that when I left Dzivarasekwa, I came driving at high speed trying to beat the 2:15pm time. The number of people who have been displaced today is quite big. The same process is happening in Kuwadzana Extension, in Kambuzuma. The question now is that, until when are we going to continue to have our own people suffer in this manner? If we say we want to send those people to the rural areas, the question I ask is, what is causing people to flee from those rural areas? It is poverty. As we speak right now, those rural areas have not seen any major changes since 1980. The only change which has happened is poverty . . .

    THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. member, I said it is good to debate but when you are debating, state facts.

    MR. MUSHORIWA: It is actually a fact Madam Speaker. The poverty datum line at the moment is over $ 3million. Do you know how many people in the rural areas can afford to raise $ 3 million a month? It is less than 5% of the people in the rural areas. If you compare the 1980 standard of living to the 2005 standard of living, you will agree that the standard of living has actually gone down. That justifies my claim that the people in the rural areas, the only thing that has actually happened is that poverty levels have actually deepened and we wonder why people are actually running away from the rural areas and coming into the towns. It is because of poverty.

    Madam Speaker, it is important that all Members of Parliament in this august House who were duly elected will appreciate and understand - and I do not think that there will be any Member of Parliament seated in this House who can justifiably stand up and say that the action s which make the children to sleep in the open and old parents to live outside their houses is justified. Right now in Dzivarasekwa, you find that in a class which used to have about 40 pupils - I understand that the number has gone down to about 20 pupils. What has happened to the rest? They have gone.

    Madam Speaker, it is important for us as the Parliament of Zimbabwe to unanimously agree on this question of the need of the Government to stop this action with immediate effect. It is only those people - the only Member of Parliament who can stand up in support of this barbaric act is either a Member of Parliament who is a non-constituent or who knows that he/she was not properly elected into his/her constituency or he rigged his way through. I think it is also important for this House to call for the Government to provide the basic needs or the basic infrastructure for all those people who have been affected. I will tell you of the studies which have actually been carried out in Harare which indicate that 65% of the people who live in Harare are lodgers. Because of that, it is important because we are talking of about 65% of the people in this city who are going to be displaced. It is important that the Government should actually provide basic infrastructure so that people could actually live a normal life. If there is who doubts the severity of the situation on the ground -- we do not need to go very far, just 3 to 4 km away from where we are into Mbare, you will see people who have been living out into the open for the past three weeks and the number of children who have died because of that . . .

    THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please do not try to sensationalise the debate.

    MR. MUSHORIWA: I know Madam Speaker, but if we are in this House, we cannot ignore the reality on the ground. I am a Member of Parliament who represents a high density suburb which has been affected and I can tell you that the number of deaths caused by these evictions is unbelievable. Kids are sleeping in the open and I will commend even the Portfolio Committee on housing to go out there and do an audit and I will tell you that the statistics which will come out will even shock us. People are dying.

    Another aspect is that apart from the children who are dying - do you know what it means for a 14 year old girl who is sleeping out in the streets? If a person like Hon. Chipanga goes to her and says I have got a property, come to sleep at my place - the number of people who have actually contracted the deadly HIV/AIDS

    THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: If you do not have any more facts, you are welcome sit down.

    MR. MUSHORIWA: All I am saying is that people who are living a sub-standard life are suffering. What I am saying is that if you have a 14 year old daughter who is sleeping outside because her family has been evicted by the present Government . . .

    THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: With due respect, I will ask you to resume your seat because you not being serious and you are not according this House the dignity that it should have.

    MR. MUSHORIWA: Madam Speaker, in as much as we want these issues to be addressed by this House in an honourable way, it does not remove the fact that the people out there are living a miserable life. It does not remove the fact that those families with kids are sleeping outside. It does not remove the fact that we have Hon. members here who claim to have been voted and who can make noise and support a barbaric method of removing people.

    Madam Speaker, I am going to recommend to this House that we as the Parliament of Zimbabwe should send a message to the Executive that they should stop this act and make sure that the people of this country have a way to live a normal life. For instance, the number of people who go to work in Dzivarasekwa - I actually met people coming from work and they were told that their structures were being destroyed - do you know the cost to the industry and the cost to the nation as a whole? It is immeasurable and I think it is important for all of us as Parliament to unanimously agree to this question that the Government of Zimbabwe should with immediate effect, cease this operation Murambatsvina and move in a methodical manner taking into cognisance the legal aspects of removing people from where they are. Madam Speaker, with those words I commend this motion.

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