Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The UN's Report on Zimbabwe
These are the main findings of th UN's report on Zim. Get the full report here.
The Special Envoy’s findings and their implications are as follows:

(i) Operation Restore Order, while purporting to target illegal dwellings and structures and to clamp down on alleged illicit activities, was carried out in an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering, and, in repeated cases, with disregard to several provisions of national and international legal frameworks. Immediate measures need to be taken to bring those responsible to account, and for reparations to be made to those who have lost property and livelihoods. In parallel, other confidence-building measures need to be taken to restore dialogue between the Government of Zimbabwe and civil society.

(ii) Even if motivated by a desire to ensure a semblance of order in the chaotic manifestations of rapid urbanisation and rising poverty characteristic of African cities, none the less Operation Restore Order turned out to be a disasterous venture based on a set of colonial-era laws and policies that were used as a tool of segregation and social exclusion. There is an urgent need to suspend these outdated laws and to review them within the briefest time possible to ensure the sustainability of humanitarian response and to set the stage for meaningful physical reconstruction and the restoration of livelihoods;

(ii) The humanitarian consequences of Operation Restore Order are enormous. It will take several years before the people and society as a whole can recover. There is an immediate need for the Government of Zimbabwe to recognise the virtual state of emergency that has resulted, and to allow unhindered access by the international and humanitarian community to assist those that have been affected. Priority needs include shelter and non-food items, food and health support services.

iv) Any humanitarian response can only be meaningful and sustainable if it contributes to the long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts of the Government and of its people. Zimbabwe is not a country at war and it remains peaceful. By African standards, it has a well maintained physical infrastructure. The international community should engage the Government of Zimbabwe and help it to address some of the issues and causal factors that led to the present predicament. These include, first and foremost, the lack of security of tenure for the poor. They also include conflicting and outdated housing and urban development policies, overlapping jurisdictions, and a lack of clear definition of and respect for the respective roles and competencies between central and local spheres of government. The humanitarian response provides a unique opportunity and entry point to link the provision of temporary shelter and other forms of humanitarian assistance with immediate security of tenure for all those affected and to prepare the ground for overcoming the failures and inherent weaknesses in governance.