A United Nations special envoy has completed a visit to Zimbabwe. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka spent nearly two weeks assessing the consequences of the Zimbabwean government's campaign of forced evictions. Mrs. Tibaijuka will prepare a report for U-N Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their homes because of the Zimbabwe government’s ill-conceived campaign to demolish low-income housing in Harare and other cities. Many of the homeless do not have homes in the countryside to which they can return. Many of the homeless are children, whose school year has been disrupted. With food prices rising and with unemployment at eighty percent, the demolitions have greatly increased the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
The housing demolitions have been condemned both inside and outside Zimbabwe. Bishop Ivan Abrahams is a member of a South African Council of Churches delegation that visited Zimbabwe. He says that what is taking place today in Zimbabwe is similar to what occurred in South Africa until the end of apartheid in the early 1990s:
"There has been a kind of parallel with what we have seen happening in South Africa with forced removals, the apartheid forced removals that we have seen, where people are left destitute, without shelter and livelihoods. That is the message we have heard from our partners in civil society, and from churches here."
U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says that tragedy, crime and horror are "what the government of Zimbabwe is perpetrating on its people":
"It really is obscene what's going on there, where the government destroys homes...of Zimbabwe's poor in some perverse, misguided move to respond to political opposition or to respond to economic factors."
President George W. Bush says that in Zimbabwe, the U.S. "is concerned about a leadership that does not adhere to democratic principles." Mr. Bush says, "The world needs to speak with [a] common voice in insisting that the principles of democracy are adhered to by the ruling party in Zimbabwe."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.