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NZ Government Washes its Hands of Zimbabwe

Government Washes its Hands of Zimbabwe Responsibility

The government announcement today that it has given up on attempting to stop the New Zealand Cricket team from touring Zimbabwe is deeply disappointing although not surprising.

Robert Mugabe himself will be the person most relieved to hear Phil Goff and Jim Anderton make the announcement today.

Likewise the decision will bring no joy to the victims of Mugabe’s outrages. The statement released 2 days ago by the Zimbabwean Association of Doctors for Human Rights makes horrific reading – (see transcript below)

However, not only is the government abandoning further steps to pressure New Zealand Cricket but they are even talking of compensating the sport for the proposed denial of visas to Zimbabwean cricketers touring here.

This is hardly the action of a government wanting New Zealand Cricket to abandon its forthcoming tour as being against New Zealand’s national interests.

New Zealand cricket is not between a rock and a hard place – it is between standing up for human rights and money. Loss of money and the opportunities to make money are the only issues New Zealand Cricket has expressed concern about.

The New Zealand public have moved a long way on from the debates of the 1970’s and 1980’s – the government and cricket officials have not.

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights

PO Box CY 2415, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe

email: zadhr@mweb.co.zw

Appeal to the Zimbabwe Medical Association, the South African Medical Association, other national medical associations in Southern Africa and worldwide, Health and Human Rights organisations, and the World Medical Association

Operation Murambatsvina (sweep up the rubbish)

The tragic deaths of three people, including two children (a 4 year old and an 18 month old baby) during the forced destruction of dwellings at Porta Farm on the outskirts of Harare on the 30th June serves to confirm the ruthless nature of Operation Murambatsvina. To date at least eight deaths have been confirmed nationwide.

Porta Farm came into existence in 1991, when, in an operation similar to the current one, hundreds of poor urban squatters were rounded up by police and dumped outside Harare in order to “cleanse” the city in advance of a visit by Queen Elizabeth II. As now, government had made no arrangements for the care and support of these displaced people and it was left to NGOs and international agencies to provide emergency relief.

In the intervening 14 years Porta Farm evolved into a stable community with clinics, primary and secondary schools, preschools and even an orphanage. This community was obliterated in the space of a day. In clear violation of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children, together with the families caring for them, have joined the thousands already deprived of shelter, education and health care by Operation Murambatsvina. Seven hundred primary school pupils, 150 of whom were about to write their Grade 7 examination, and 183 secondary school students have been forced to abandon their education, in addition to an estimated 300,000 children similarly affected countrywide.

ZADHR’s particular concern for health leads us to emphasise the manifest and predictable effects of Murambatsvina in terms of

(1) the likelihood of further deaths due to arbitrary physical trauma, as incurred this week in Porta Farm, as a result of the thoughtless violence of the demolition methods,

(2) deaths due to exposure and hypothermia among already vulnerable children, chronically ill adults and the elderly, forced to live through nights in the open at the coldest time of the year,

(3) the spread of infectious disease due to the lack of proper sanitation or water supply for hundreds of thousands of people,

(4) the generation of ideal conditions for the spread of epidemic disease (eg cholera and typhoid) from those directly affected into the general population,

(5) the increase in incidence of malnutrition due to the breakdown of food supplies as family income generation methods are destroyed, in a context in which basic foodstuffs are already at a premium,

(6) the exacerbation of the HIV epidemic as community structures are fractured and dispersed and the vulnerability of women, adolescents and children to sexual exploitation is magnified,

(7) the inevitable emergence of widespread drug-resistant HIV as treatment programmes are disrupted.

Since the arrival in Zimbabwe of the UN envoy, UN-Habitat Executive Director Anna Kagumulo Tibaijuka, to investigate Operation Murambatsvina, the government has attempted to recast the destruction as a facet of a long-planned national housing scheme and subsequently announced plans for the immediate construction of thousands of new homes to replace those destroyed, Operation Garikayi (good living). This is completely devoid of credibility. Disregarding the fact that Zimbabwe is effectively bankrupt and has no capacity to implement an enterprise of this scale, there was no public announcement or record of such a plan prior to the unleashing of Operation Murambatsvina. Any government with even the most basic concern for the welfare of its citizens would have ensured that replacement housing was in place prior to the destruction of existing dwellings and that such an exercise was carried out in a phased and orderly manner.

The speciousness of the government claim is further evidenced by the total lack of preparedness of the key Ministries of Health, Social Welfare and Education to respond to the ensuing humanitarian and health crisis. It is clear that these ministries were not even consulted let alone involved in any planning process.

ZADHR calls upon the Zimbabwe Medical Association, the South African Medical Association and other regional medical associations to apply whatever influence they have, in whatever quarters, to seek an immediate end to Murambatsvina and the initiation of appropriate measures to reverse its catastrophic effects.


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