United Nations Special Envoy, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, at the weekend ended a two-week assessment of the evictions of some 200,000 people in Zimbabwe to prepare a report for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. “I have been in several areas of the country and assessed the consequences of the clean-up operation and the efforts being undertaken by all, especially those affected, and those trying to assist them including the government, civil society and international organizations. I will now report back to the Secretary-General of the United Nations who will then decide on the next steps and how the international community can further assist the Government and people of Zimbabwe on the challenges I have seen on the ground,” she said.
Mrs. Tibaijuka said that as UN Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, the UN agency responsible for housing and urban development, she saw an immediate need to support the UN country team in Zimbabwe and appointed a UN-HABITAT Programme Manager, with immediate effect.
UN-HABITAT Programme Managers are urban planning and management experts stationed at country level. They work with central government, local authorities and all stakeholders to help with the effective implementation of the Habitat Agenda that is committed to providing adequate shelter for all and developing sustainable human settlements in a rapidly urbanising world. Improving the conditions of slum dwellers is also one of the Millennium Development Goals. The agency had not stationed a programme manager in Zimbabwe until now because statistics had suggested that urbanisation was not yet critical in the country. During the second week of her mission, the Special Envoy traveled south from Harare by road and visited the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces. She met senior regional and municipal leaders in Gweru, before going on to the southern city of Bulawayo, where she met with Governor Cain Mathema and the local inter-ministerial committee responsible for Operation Restore Order. She then met Mayor Japhet Ndabeni Ncube and the city council. Mrs. Tibaijuka also heard the views of faith-based organizations, non-governmental organizations and ordinary citizens. She visited demolition sites in the suburb of Luveve, and met with displaced families at the nearby Agape Mission Church.
In Matabeleland North, the Special Envoy met with Governor Thokozile A. Mathuthu and visited Hwange mining town and Victoria Falls municipality. After a meeting with Mayor Tose W. Sansole, the Special Envoy visited Mkhosana at Umfalandowonye Housing Cooperative where she talked to evicted families sleeping in the open.
Mrs. Tibaijuka arrived in Zimbabwe 26 June on a fact finding mission to assess the scope and extent of the mass evictions, and to look into humanitarian needs and the impact on the affected populations. She also assessed the adequacy of the government’s arrangements for the displaced, its capacity to address their basic needs, as well as the ability of the UN and its partners to respond.
The Special Envoy met with people from all walks of life. She listened to as many people as possible with a view to understanding the situation without endorsing or discrediting their points of view. Based on these meetings and the research conducted by her team, the Special Envoy will make an impartial assessment for the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
“On behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and on behalf of members of my team, I would like to thank His Excellency President Mugabe and all Zimbabwean government and party officials, members of civil society, church leaders, academia, the private sector, and the people of this country,” Mrs. Tibaijuka said. “I would also like to thank all stakeholders, including the diplomatic community for the support extended to me in the course of this assessment mission. I wish to single out the support offered by the UN country team under the able leadership of Mr. Agostinho Zacarias.”