Accessibility links

Breaking News

Human Rights Group: Zimbabwe Mass Evictions Pending

A human rights group is warning of another round of mass evictions in Zimbabwe's capital.

Amnesty International says thousands of people in Harare may soon be kicked out of their stalls and homes. It says most of those facing possible eviction were also targeted by the government in 2005, when hundreds of thousands of people were evicted.

"We've spoken very recently to the deputy mayor of the Harare City Council and it appears that an estimated 200 people from an informal settlement in the suburb of Gunhill…and then thousands of informal traders from across the city face being forcibly evicted," says the London-based Amy Agnew, Amnesty's campaigner for Zimbabwe.

Signs of pending evictions

"There have been a series of articles in the state newspaper, which is often a mouthpiece for…the intentions of the government," she says. "And we had this conversation directly with the deputy mayor himself, who confirmed that these are the plans. And without putting a timeline on them [the deputy mayor] said that this was in line to take place."

None of those facing possible eviction have received any notice or due process, says Agnew.

"The deputy mayor told Amnesty International that city authorities are considering evicting these people from what they call illegal settlements and marketplaces to restore order."

She says the official said the people posed a health hazard.

Happening again?

"What we know is that most of the people at risk of these evictions were victims of Operation Murambatsvina, which was the program of mass forced evictions…in 2005, implemented by the Zimbabwean government," Agnew says.

An estimated 700,000 people were evicted from makeshift homes and stalls at that time.

"Some of them were actually put back to the settlements where they were forcibly evicted from, she says. "So the government came in, forcibly evicted them, trashed their homes and sent them off, many of them to their rural areas."

But many returned

"Some…were then told to come back to the rubble of their former homes and rebuild. Others stayed with relatives. Others continue to live in absolute destitution…as a result of those evictions,' she says.

Four years later, she says, they have not received any compensation.

"The government has an obligation not to carry out these kinds of evictions until all other feasible alternatives have been explored and until there's been some kind of genuine consultation with the affected communities," she says.

Before any eviction takes place, she says, there must be adequate notice and no one should be made homeless.