Zimbabwe: Houses and businesses demolished by the Government

The Government of Zimbabwe started to demolish houses, businesses and any building they deemed illegal on 18th of May 2005. The operation, known as Murambatsvina (Operation Restore Order) has continued since and expanded to almost all towns and peri-urban settlements in the country.
Although no official figures are available, estimates show that 54,000 households and approximately 270,000 people were affected.

The majority of the affected population are either being accommodated by friends and relatives within the cities, have returned to their rural homes, or have sought temporary accommodation in church compounds or government established "transit camps".

Impact on Plan supported areas

Plan Zimbabwe operates in 2 of the 40 sites affected by the operation:

  • In Epworth an estimated 2400 households were affected, of those 240 were living in 4 of the settlement areas where Plan works, with an estimated 130 sponsored families being directly affected.

  • In Pumala, estimates show that about 200 households were destroyed with the demolitions affecting about 100 Plan supported families.

The majority of those affected by the operation in the Plan areas have sought refuge with relatives and friends. However, the whereabouts of some of the affected Plan sponsored families is unknown. Plan is actively trying to confirm their status.

Sponsorship work has been greatly affected as some of the support structures have been dismantled or destabilised.

Access to some of the areas by Plan staff has been difficult and, at times, impossible. Access to the transit camps were denied to most non-religious NGOs such as Plan. However, as of last week, access has been given to all areas and Plan will now increase its activities and provide assistance to the affected families.

Plan response

Plan is closely working with other NGOs under the auspices of the Humanitarian Coordination Forum and Working Group to provide support to those affected. The main aims of the forum are to provide:

  • overall coordination of the Murambatsvina assistance

  • assess the situation and make regular updates

  • form working group to address specific issues arising from the clean up exercise

  • lobby the government to stop the operation and allow NGOs to provide humanitarian assistance

  • identify and register those affected

  • mobilise resources for assistance those affected

Plan is also a member of the Child Protection Group whose responsibilities include:

  • the prevention of family separation and rapid unification

  • sensitisation of the affected people on prevention of abuse of children and women

  • provision of emergency support to especially vulnerable groups including disabled, mentally ill, children without adult caretakers, children taking care of sick adults

Information for Plan sponsors

We will of course keep you informed of any changes that take place with your sponsorship as soon as we can. Please bear in mind, however, the challenges that our local staff are inevitably facing, particularly since many families' plans may not yet have been finalised.