Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: Displaced squatters return

BY MANDLA MPOFU

BULAWAYO - Barely two months after being removed from Killarney and Ngozi mine squatter camps by police during the internationally condemned government exercise, Murambatsvina, close to 200 people have returned to these shanty towns in the periphery of the city.

Those interviewed say they were dumped by government in the 'middle of no where' in rural settings alien to them as most of them are of foreign origin and the only place they call home are the shacks that were razed by government agents.

"I could not stay in Lupane because I have no relatives there as I am of Zambian origin and my whole life has revolved around Bulawayo and therefore I could not adapt to the new environment," said one, identified only as Phiri.

Although they are now back to where they say they are most comfortable, their future here is uncertain as police still carry out random raids on these areas. Besides impending raids, followed by nights in police cells before release, their main concern is the availability of food.

Those at Ngozi mine, a refuse dump site, have over the years managed to forage for morsels to quench their hunger off the dirt dumped here, but since the worsening of the food crisis following the advent of the ruthless Murambatsvina, their chances of survival have been greatly reduced as fewer people can now afford to throw any food into their trash cans.

The clergy who have been helping the displaced also find themselves in a quandary. By offering assistance they have come into direct confrontation with the government. The Bulawayo Council of Churches has been distributing food and other necessary aid to the displaced but this development is a stern test.