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Country analysis > Zimbabwe Last update: 2020-11-27  

A study on the impact of "Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order" in 26 wards of Harare high density housing areas

ActionAid International (AAI), Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)

July 2005

Permission to reproduce this document was granted by ActionAid International.
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Background to “Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order”

The Operation that changed the lives of thousands of people in Zimbabwe began on 18th May 2005; when the state declared and rolled out bulldozers with armed police across the cities of Zimbabwe to demolish all “illegal structures”. The operation witnessed the destruction of dwellings, livelihoods, vending stalls and the confiscation of goods and property belonging to informal traders. It is estimated that over 55 000 households in 52 sites across the country and between 250 000 - 500 000 have been rendered homeless, or forced to migrate to the rural areas. Furthermore, more than 30 000 people were arrested and fined in the process.

To date, the operation has received wider condemnation from both local and international sympathizers, agencies and actors alike. The exercise has been described as inhuman and lacking proper planning. But the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) continuously defends its position as attempt to clean up the urban centres and rid them of illegal vendors, illegal dwellings and criminal elements who were among other things accused of fuelling the foreign currency black market.

The humanitarian relief support and response to the affected individuals and families is being carried out under the coordination of various faith based organizations these include churches, in coordination with local community based organizations (CBOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) comprising of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), World Food Programme (WFP), United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) together with numerous International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), have been providing support to community organizations and churches involved in providing relief to the affected communities.

However, the nature and extent of responses is not only limited in its scope and coverage but lacking important and critical information necessary in providing a well coordinated and effective response. There is no socio-demographic or economic information on those affected as well as needs information to inform appropriate responses. Lack of information is affecting response programme planning, implementation and inability to ascertain the effectiveness of relief efforts. The major challenge being experienced in providing the adequate relief is that it is biased towards those with access to relief assistance (in holding camps and those that have been sheltered in churches); leaving the most vulnerable members of the affected population.

This survey conducted by CHRA and ActionAid within the high density areas of Harare, as an attempt to fill the void created by the lack of basic information on those affected and needing assistance as a result of “Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order”.

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