June 6, 2006
In writing about Zimbabwe and its “Drive Out the Trash Campaign” a few days ago, which has displaced thousands in Harare. I wanted to share today’s post from This is Zimbabwe, which provides good analysis on how far money goes in a country where inflation is the highest in the world, reaching almost 1200% in May.
Zimbabwe was once an exporter of grain in southern Africa, but has suffered food shortages over the last five years as its agricultural sector faced drought and disruptions linked to President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land reforms which has seized white-owned farms to redistribute among blacks. In addition, the bloggers writes:
“The frightening thing about the rise of more than 1000% in school fees, is that large numbers of children will drop out of school, and others will not even be able to get any education at all. This is the second time this year that school fees have been hiked and, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) statistics for the period 1996 to 2004, only 44 percent of boys and 42 percent of girls who were enrolled in a secondary school actually attended classes (probably due to hunger and poverty). This is a grim future for our children, and for our country too.”
June 2, 2006
Amnesty International released today satellite images of a community that has been uprooted as a part of the Zimbabwean government’s policy of demolishing houses. The first picture of the community Porta Farm on June 22, 2002. The second one is of Porta Farm on April 6, 2006 after the government had the community razed (photo copyright: Digital Globe, Inc.)
The satellite images were commissioned to demonstrate the complete destruction of Porta Farm — a large, informal settlement that was established 16 years ago and had schools, a children’s centre and a mosque. The organization also released graphic video footage showing the forced evictions taking place prior to the demolitions.
“The images and footage are a graphic indictment of the Zimbabwean government’s policies. They show the horrifying transition of an area from a vibrant community to rubble and shrubs — in the space of just ten months,” said Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of Amnesty International’s Africa programme.
In May 2005 the government of Zimbabwe set up Operation Murambatsvina. The UN claims it translates into Restore Order, but others say “Drive out the Trash” is more apt. This was done under the guise of being a beautification program by cleaning up urban areas and preventing big cities like Harare from having too many slums.
Instead it has demolished homes and small, informal businesses, evicting thousands of people in the process. The operation, which was carried out in winter and against a backdrop of severe food shortages, targeted poor urban areas around the country.
On 27 June 2005, one month after this program started, police officers came to Porta Farm and distributed fliers telling residents to pack up their property and leave their homes. The police told the residents they would be back the following morning, giving them less than 24 hours to comply. Early in the morning of 28 June, a convoy of vehicles and police re-entered the area.