Tuesday, July 12, 2005


SA clergy probe Zimbabwe raids.

The church leaders hope to speak to victims of evictions. A delegation of South African churchmen has arrived in Zimbabwe to assess the consequences of a recent crackdown on shack dwellers and traders. Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, co-leader of the delegation, said they wanted to hear the stories of people affected by the raids.
Shack demolitions over the past two months have left more than 200,000 people homeless, according to the UN. UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka says she is to finish a report on the evictions soon. Archbishop Ndungane said he would meet politicians "if possible". "But our primary objective is to meet with the people, listen to their stories, pray with them and indicate our love and care and support," the archbishop told South African Broadcasting Corporation radio. Russel Botman, chair of the South African Council of Churches, is the other co-leader of a delegation that includes Catholic Cardinal Wilfred Napier and leaders from several Protestant churches.
The Zimbabwe government says Operation Murambatsvina [Drive Out Rubbish] is aimed at ridding urban areas of criminals.
Teachers, doctors, church groups, the UN and the opposition have condemned the moves. A report on the situation by UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka is to be handed to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan within two weeks, Ms Tibaijuka's spokesman told Reuters news agency. "We are now writing the report and it will be handed over to the secretary general within one to two weeks ... The procedure (on whether it will be made public) is up to him," spokesman Sharad Shankardass said. I will remember going around seeing people struggling to put up accommodation for themselves
Ms Tibaijuka, who heads the UN Habitat agency, on Friday ended her 12-day mission after being sent by the secretary general to investigate the evictions. "Some of the people I visited were not necessarily in proper shelters," the UN envoy told Reuters. "I will remember going around seeing people struggling to put up accommodation for themselves," she said. Ms Tibaijuka said Habitat would support government, non-governmental organisations and other UN agencies to address housing problems in Zimbabwe. "I have immediately decided to support the UN country team with a programme manager to make sure that we sort out the challenges once and for all," she said.


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