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Parliament debate on Operation Murambatsvina
- Page 1
from Hansard Vol. 32, No. 5
Parliament of Zimbabwe
list of 2005 Zimbabwe Parliamentarians
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- MR MUSHORIWA
DEPUTY MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE (MR. CHIHOTA)
DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND PUBLICITY (MR. MATONGA)
- MR. COLTART
MUSHORIWA : I move the motion standing in my name, that:-
the massive destruction of people’s homes, markets and livelihoods
under the vehicle of the so-called Operation Murambatsvina;
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
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);
CENSORS in the strongest terms the State actions in respect of Operation
CALLS on Government
to immediately stop and cease the aforesaid operation;
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:
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.
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
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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