Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: ZANU PF shoots down opposition motion on evictions

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HARARE - Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU PF party yesterday used its majority in Parliament to reject an opposition motion demanding that the government stop demolishing homes in urban areas and that it provides accommodation for families left homeless by its controversial urban clean-up drive.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) immediately accused the ZANU PF parliamentarians of voting against their consciences and betraying thousands of families displaced by the campaign because of their fear of President Robert Mugabe.

"They know the truth but are too afraid to speak out," MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi told ZimOnline. "As a result of their selfish vote, the suffering of the people will continue. Mothers and children will continue to sleep in the open in the middle of this cold winter. School children will remain out of school. The people will continue to suffer in hunger and destitution," he added.

ZANU PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira was not immediately available for comment on the matter.

But the ruling party and the government have in the past rejected criticism by local human rights groups and the international community against the clean-up drive, insisting that the destruction of city backyard cottages and shantytowns was necessary to smash crime and to restore the beauty of Zimbabwe's cities.

Moving his motion in Parliament, MDC legislator for Harare's Dzivarasekwa constituency, Edwin Mushoriwa, described Operation Murambatsvina (the government's code for the clean-up campaign) as a "war against the people."

Mushoriwa called on the government to urgently provide accommodation and other basic amenities to close to a million people cast onto the streets without food or water when the police destroyed their makeshift homes and informal businesses in urban centres across the country.

Voting by show of hands, ZANU PF legislators shot down the motion. The ruling party won 78 seats in last March's disputed parliamentary election but enjoys another 12 seats occupied by people handpicked to Parliament by Mugabe under a constitutional clause allowing him to do so.

The party has an additional eight seats occupied by provincial governors who are appointed to their posts by Mugabe and sit in Parliament with full voting powers.

Ten representatives of traditional chiefs who also have full voting powers in the House traditionally vote with ZANU PF assuring the party of control of 108 seats or more than a critical two thirds of the 150-seat chamber.

The MDC has 41 seats and an independent occupies the remaining seat. - ZimOnline