Executive Summary “Operation Murambatsvina” and “Operation Restore Order” are the code names used by the police for a massive operation that began in Zimbabwe towards the end of May. This nationwide campaign, which has been conducted in the cities and towns, in peri-urban areas, and on farms settled after land invasions, has led to the destruction of many thousands of houses and means of shelter, trading stalls and markets. Whatever the reasons behind this, none of which can be morally justified, this campaign has created a huge humanitarian disaster causing enormous hardship and suffering. Within the space of a few weeks, Operation Murambatsvina has produced a massive internal refugee population who are homeless and without the means to earn a living. By its mismanagement of the economy in pursuit of political ends, the Mugabe Government has created mass unemployment. As formal sector unemployment has risen, more and more people had to move into the informal trading sector to earn some sort of livelihood. Before Operation Murambatsvina, vast numbers of people were earning a living in the informal economic sector. Previously the Government encouraged the growth of the informal sector and allowed informal traders and vendors to carry out their activities. The authorities largely turned a blind eye to vendors and traders operating in violation of by-laws. Because of drastic housing shortages, hundreds of thousands of people were occupying shanty and makeshift dwellings in urban areas. Many more were occupying houses erected by housing co-operatives on land occupied during the land invasions. Many of these housing co-operatives were registered, and senior government officials had often encouraged the establishment of these informal settlements or had given the approval to their activities. The authorities had previously done little to enforce the building by-laws in relation to these informal settlements. Suddenly, in a military style operation, often conducted in the early hours of the morning, police officers dressed up in riot kit and armed with automatic firearms, loaded with live ammunition, descended without warning on poor urban people in high-density suburbs, in and around towns and cities, all over Zimbabwe. The army was also deployed in a show of force to deter people from putting up resistance to the police action. The police bulldozed, smashed, and burned structures housing many thousands of poor urban dwellers. Among those whose buildings were destroyed were those who had proper plans for their buildings and those who had entered into valid leases to occupy those premises. The owners of the structures, and even bystanders in numerous instances were also pressganged into assisting in breaking down these structures. The destruction of structures that housed thousands of people was done without providing any alternate accommodation whatsoever, although after all the destruction, the Government announced plans to build and rebuild housing. Some estimates put the number of people now displaced at well over a million. The forced displacement of thousands of families has meant that many children of these families are no longer attending school. Amongst those that have been made homeless in the blitz are babies and young children, orphans, women and women-headed households, elderly people, disabled people, people with HIV and other sick people. The dislocation of these people has severely disrupted treatment and care programmes for people with HIV, and these persons will be exceptionally vulnerable as a result. The police also destroyed large numbers of vending stalls and markets and drove away vendors from sites all around the towns from which they had been operating. Quite a number of vendors were unfairly affected as they held valid vending licenses. During these operations the police confiscated quantities of goods. Allegations were made that some of this property was misappropriated by police officers. This operation was conducted in a brutal fashion. The police beat people who offered resistance to what they were doing, or did not comply quickly enough with orders to remove property from inside their structures or to assist in dismantling these structures. Property worth millions of dollars was destroyed, in many cases this constituting an investment of the life savings of families. During this operation, many people were arrested on a variety of charges.

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