Churches in [tag]Bulawayo[/tag], as well as other churches in [tag]Zimbabwe[/tag], are commemorating the anniversary of [tag]Murambatsvina [/tag]in their town with a peaceful procession of [tag]Christian [/tag]witness, so that Zimbabwean citizens and the authorities will be reminded of this injustice and the consequent, enduring suffering.
The police are doing all they can to prevent the [tag]prayer[/tag] procession, as evidenced in a recent press release.
This post concludes with information on similar efforts taking place in [tag]London[/tag].
You can read an overview on Operation Murambatsvina in this Sokwanele article dated 18 June 2005. Or read blogs archived here. We also have a collection of Murambatsvina images on Flickr at this link. Please feel free to use the images on Flickr to spread the word and remind people. We'd appreciate it if you added a link back to this site and this article.
Thank you for your support!
PRESS STATEMENT FROM CHURCHES IN BULAWAYO : 16 May 2006
BULAWAYO â€“ Church leaders in Bulawayo are seriously concerned that police in the city have made an about turn in granting them clearance to hold a prayer procession on Saturday May 20 to remember victims of last yearâ€™s [tag]Operation Murambatsvina[/tag].
As Church leaders in Bulawayo we view this as an infringement of our freedom of worship. If police are to ban church services, which are exempt under the Public Order and Security Act, such a development will have serious implications on the Churchâ€™s right to carry out its God given mandate. Such action serves to clearly demonstrate the desperate position of the regime.
The prayer procession scheduled for Saturday morning from St Patrickâ€™s Church in Makokoba to Brethren in Christ Church in the centre city, is part of nationwide activities being coordinated by [tag]Zimbabwe Christian Alliance[/tag] to stand in solidarity with the poor. A similar big event will be held in Chitungwiza on Saturday. The Zimbabwe Christian Alliance is organizing these prayer events not for political gain or mere publicity but because it has a Biblical mandate to stand in solidarity with the poor.
Churches in Bulawayo sheltered over 2 000 families at the height Murambatsvina and have continued to provide food assistance as well as medical help and payment of school fees for displaced children. What has frightened the police is that thousands of Bulawayo residents are intending to take parting the procession. The procession starts from Makokoba - the oldest and one of the suburbs worst affected by Murambatsvina. Police estimate that 15 000 people will turn out for the procession and claim they do not have enough manpower to control such a huge crowd.
Since yesterday, junior police officers have been calling individual clerics to interrogate and intimidate them to cancel procession. But this morning, Tuesday, about 30 senior security officers in Bulawayo who are members of the Joint Operations Command - that is composed of the police, army and Central Intelligence Organisation â€“ summoned the leadership of Churches in Bulawayo to a two- hour interrogation session.
Soon after the interrogation a letter withdrawing clearance for the procession was issued. Clearance had initially been granted on Friday last week.
An urgent meeting of senior church leaders will be held tomorrow morning to decide on the way forward.
The police in Bulawayo have withdrawn clearance for a planned prayer procession by Churches in Bulawayo to remember victims of last yearâ€™s Operation Murambatsvina.
For more information contact Zimbabwe Christian Alliance coordinator Useni Sibanda on 263 91 218 651 or 263 11 881 316
Date: Saturday 20 May 2006
Assembly And Starting Point: St.Patricks Church - Makokoba
Procession Through Town To: Bretheren In Christ Church/Central (Masotsha Ave)
Assembly Time: 9.30 am
Start Of Procession: 10.00 am
Last year on 18th May the police in Harare began the systematic destruction of what were deemed to be illegal dwellings. In addition street [tag]vendors[/tag], even those trading legally, were arrested and fined, their wares and assets confiscated. All this was done under the guise of a clean-up operation for the cities, purportedly to reduce criminal activity. However most of the people affected were neither dirty nor criminal: most were victims of disastrous government policies and were trying by all means to eke out a living for their families. Operation Murambatsvina (which means clean out the trash) spread its stain indiscriminately across the country and in June the squatter camps of Killarney and Ngozi Mine were demolished, along with many suburban structures in this town.
In response, many churches in Bulawayo sheltered and fed the newly homeless for six weeks before they were forcibly removed from sight to a camp at Helensvale. Shortly afterwards they uplifted were again and were strewn across the country. Several families found themselves camping in the open for days at a time while uninformed and unprepared local authorities decided what should be done.
Since that time some families have managed to integrate into their original rural communities. But many are living as strangers. They have lost their friends and family, their belongings, their means of earning a living. Sometimes they are not even allowed to bury their dead. They have to seek help from pastors to get a burial in town, which because of a shortage of funds, can take several days while families wait helplessly. On average two people a week (often babies) die and the rate is increasing. The cause of death is often [tag]HIV [/tag]related aggravated by malnutrition. Churches within Bulawayo have done their best to help but with food shortages and limited resources it has never been enough.
One group within the displaced, affected by the upheaval, were the children who needed to continue with their schooling. Funding was found that enabled almost 200 children to attend last term, but there was nothing for another 300.
These statistics only paint part of the picture. For many, the disruption to their lives, the loss of community and property, the deprivation of their livelihoods and the disregard for their dignity has been traumatic to the point of despair, even death.
As [tag]Christians[/tag], [tag]Jesus [/tag]expects us to be a voice for the poor and the oppressed, to be Godâ€™s arm of help and to stand beside those who are suffering. For this reason Churches in Bulawayo, as well as other churches in Zimbabwe, are commemorating the anniversary of Murambatsvina in our town with a peaceful procession of Christian witness, so that our citizens and the authorities will be reminded of this injustice and the consequent, enduring suffering.
We are inviting you, to join us as a demonstration of faith in the redeeming work of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Let us stand with those who are treated as the least and proclaim Godâ€™s indignation concerning oppression and injustice.
And for those who are in London:
Special Vigil to mark the Anniversary of the Start of Murambatsvina
Murambatsvina â€œClear out the Trashâ€ started a year ago this week. Tragically it is still continuing â€“ the Telegraph reports today (16/5/06) that 10,000 of the most vulnerable â€“ the street children of Harare â€“ have been detained pending relocation to rural areas. Protests are planned in Zimbabwe to mark this anniversary. On Saturday, 20th May, the Churches in Bulawayo have planned a procession through the city. We pray they will be safe from attack. This Saturday, the Vigil is holding a sympathy demonstration to mark this horrendous anniversary (usual Vigil time of 2 - 6 pm).
Washinton Ali, Chair of the MDC-UK (part of the Vigil Coalition) urges all opposed to Murambatsvina to attend the Vigil. He also advises that MDC President, Morgan Tsvangirai, will be addressing supporters at a meeting in London on Sunday, 28th May â€“ venue to be advised.
* PLEASE ALL COME AND SUPPORT THIS IMPORTANT PROTEST â€“ HELP US MAKE THE PUBLIC AWARE OF THE HORRORS IN ZIMBABWE
* PLEASE BRING BANNERS AND POSTERS
DR JOHN MAKUMBE, a fierce government critic was yesterday arrested at his offices at the University of Zimbabwe in connection with the planned commemoration of the Operation Murambatsvina anniversary, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has said.
The civic leaders were arrested and were being questioned on events earmarked commemorate the first anniversary of Operation Murambatsvina the brutal exercise that saw the government of Zimbabwe last year destroying peopleâ€™s houses and livelihoods, ostensibly to clean up the cities. It seems though that despite the UN condemning the exercise as illegal and disastrous, one the left over 2,4 million people in limbo, the government of Zimbabwe seems to be continuing in rounding up homeless people and dumping them outside the city. The homeless people are waiting to be deported to their rural homes.
One year after launching a highly controversial campaign of evictions and demolitions of unauthorized dwellings, Zimbabwean authorities have established another holding camp on a farm outside Harare to accommodate some 10,000 homeless people and street vendors rounded up in the capital over the past several weeks.
Civil society sources said some of those displaced a year ago in Harare's so-called Operation Murambatsvina (Shona for "Drive Out the Trash") have also been moved to Melfort Farm, located in Goromonzi district about 40 kilometers east of Harare.
A highly placed police source said police officers and central intelligence organisation agents have been deployed to Melfort Farm, and cordoned it off. A Harare city official speaking on condition of anonymity said Melfort lacked proper shelter and sanitary facilities and that the only food being provided was that seized from vendors.
[tags]poverty, IDPs, Internally Displaced Persons, homeless, protest, action, non violence, civic action[/tags]