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"Rights not violated"

W. Moyo, Charge d'Affaires, Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe, New Delhi, writes:

Your article "Rights groups call for action against Zimbabwe" ( The Hindu , June 24, 2005) asserts that "Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order" was a grave violation of human rights.

The democratically elected Government of Zimbabwe launched Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order to address the chaotic state of affairs where illegal structures and unlicensed trading premises were not prevalent. The main aim was to decongest the cities and towns and establish an environment conducive to investment. The evictions undertaken in Zimbabwe are in accordance with the relevant city by-laws that regulate the putting up of structures in any city in Zimbabwe. These laws prohibit illegal and unplanned structures of any kind. The evictions are neither arbitrary nor unlawful, since they are undertaken within the confines of the relevant applicable laws, with the objective of ridding the capital and other cities of illegal structures, illegal business and criminal activities.

The Government of Zimbabwe is aware that where evictions are justifiable, as they are in this case, it is incumbent upon the relevant authorities to ensure that they are carried out in a manner warranted by law, and that all the legal recourses and remedies are available to those affected. Before the evictions were carried out, occupants were given sufficient notice and the choice to voluntarily take down their illegal structures. Many did but those who failed to heed the notice and refused to take down their illegal structures had this done for them by the relevant authorities in the operation.

Despite the fact that the operation is noble, the usual western detractors have condemned it. The clean up exercise has been blown out of proportion and out of context by the western media. It is ironic that this is the same media that accused the Government of Zimbabwe of flouting the rule of law by letting people settle wherever they wished, and now that the Government is removing the people in order to regularise the settlements, the same media sees cause for criticism.

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