Zimbabwe: Harare gets 48 hours to respond to UN report

NEW YORK -- The United Nations (UN) has given Zimbabwe 48 hours to respond to issues raised in a report by the world body's special envoy who assessed Harare's controversial urban clean-up campaign earlier this month.
The report, compiled by UN-Habitat boss Anna Tibaijuka after spending two weeks in Zimbabwe as UN Secretary General Koffi Annan's envoy, was handed to Annan and Harare's UN representative, Boniface Chidyausiku, on Wednesday this week.

In a statement yesterday the UN said: "The report on Zimbabwe, produced by Mrs Anna Tibaijuka, the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy on Human Settlement Issues in Zimbabwe, has been finalised and was sent to the Government of Zimbabwe yesterday (Wednesday).

"The report is expected to be made public on Friday (today) or Monday. The government will be given 48 hours to look at the report."

The report is expected to be devastating against Harare for demolishing shantytowns, city backyard cottages and informal trading kiosks, casting thousands of families onto the streets without food, water or income.

Annan earlier this week said he was worried at the humanitarian crisis created by the clean-up drive in what UN experts said was a clear indication Tibaijuka's report will be scathing against Harare.

The United States, European Union, Zimbabwean and international human rights groups have roundly condemned the clean-up exercise as a gross violation of poor people's rights.

Non-governmental organisations say about 300 000 people have been displaced by the campaign but the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party puts the figure at 1.5 million people.

President Robert Mugabe has defended the exercise as vital to smash crime and to restore the beauty of Zimbabwe's cities and towns.

But the MDC, which is most supported in urban areas, says the exercise is meant to punish city residents for rejecting Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party in last March's disputed parliamentary election. - ZimOnline