Zimbabwe scores highly despite sanctions
Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2007

By Caesar Zvayi
October 10, 2007
The herald

The adage, lies run sprints but the truth runs marathons, has always been vindicated in Zimbabwe since the stand off with Britain began in November 1997.

In a developing country like Zimbabwe which did the "unthinkable" by challenging the world order of double standards, the lies churned by rightwing Western governments and their hired lackeys travel at supersonic speed claiming the gullible at regular intervals.

The situation is compounded by the fact that the Western powers control powerful international news agencies that churn out copious copy that reaches millions of people, and places the public media, tasked to tell the real Zimbabwean story, cannot reach at the moment.

Even cyberspace is dominated by these powerful nations that have made it their vocation to tar and feather Zimbabwe in a bid to preserve the myth of white supremacy.

As such anyone who relies on the Western media for news about Zimbabwe, ends up wondering whether there is any sanity in the country.

For starters such a person cannot reconcile how a Government which is "repressive" continues getting successive mandates, by huge margins at that, at election time, particularly when reports say Zimbabweans are being squeezed to the eyeballs by "increasing Government repression".

Such a person can never understand why the MDC, which such media claim has so much support, fails to rally people in the streets to effect the much-vaunted colour revolutions the West executed with prurience in Eastern Europe.

Such a reader can never understand why rightwing groups like the International Crisis Group, actually acknowledge that President Mugabe's popularity is increasing and that the opposition has hit its nadir.

How is that possible at a time Mugabe's tyranny is said to have reached fascist proportions?

Similar questions probably gripped all who read the recent report by UN Habitat, ‘Enhancing Urban Safety and Security – Global Report on Human Settlements 2007', released ahead of the World Habitat Day commemorations on October 1.

The report acknowledges the success Zimbabwe has scored in housing delivery, and that Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order was a two-pronged clean up exercise aimed at decongesting cities and towns, and to rid them of crime.

Says UN Habitat in part: "The Government, local authorities and the private sector have all joined hands to build houses for the people.

"Over the past four years 277 038 housing stands have been planned and allocated for housing development in urban areas.

"Other services such as roads, water, sewer and electricity are having to follow after ensuring that each family has a roof over its head.

"The Government-initiated national housing delivery programme, Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle, the numerous local authorities' housing programmes and those led by the private sector have helped shape a composite housing delivery programme that recognises the needs of the poor and the rich.

"Class-specific housing programmes have been put in place with the smallest housing stands on 200 square metres of land while the biggest residential stands can go up to 6 000 square metres."

UN Habitat further acknowledges the virtues of Operation Murambatsvian/Restore Order, saying: "The celebrations' theme ‘A Safe City is Just a Safe City' dovetails very well with Zimbabwe's thrust of affording a safe urban environment that is free of squatter settlements.

"It is important to note that the celebrations are taking place two years after Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order which, among other things, sought to rid urban areas of crime and to decongest overcrowded settlements like Mbare."

Yes dear reader, this is the same UN Habitat led by one Anna Tibaijuka Kajumulo, who was condomised by former British prime minister, Tony Blair during her "fact-finding" mission to Zimbabwe at the height of Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order in mid-2005.

Tibaijuka; now director-general of the UN Office in Nairobi; drafted a controversial report that claimed the clean-up operation was a State-sanctioned clampdown on political opponents.

Tibaijuka's report was littered with judgmental language from start to finish, and the very first paragraph of her executive summary had the phrase "clean-up" in quotation marks to show that she did not consider Operation Murambatsvina to have been about destroying illegal structures and crime as she regurgitated MDC propaganda that said the operation was targeted at opposition supporters.

Tibaijuka's report claimed 700 000 urban dwellers (21 percent of the total urban population) lost either their homes or source of livelihood or both, while a further 2,4 million (71 percent of the total urban population of 3,4 million) where affected.

Yet the Zimbabwe Republic Police which was carrying out the demolitions revealed that only 50 193 illegal structures had been demolished in all 10 provinces by June 28, when the operation was winding up.

These 50 000 structures covered all illegal structures, not just houses, which is why Tibaijuka's claims that over 700 000 people were affected failed to find purchase, except among those sold to the illegal regime change agenda.

In the end it turned out that Tibaijuka had not even authored the report but merely endorsed it as the writing had apparently been done long before she sat down to try to do so.

In fact, three-quarters of the report was dedicated to submissions from opposition groups and their embeds in the "civil" society, as well as demolition pictures to the exclusion of reconstruction pictures.

It latter emerged that Tibaijuka, who initially hailed Government housing programmes on her arrival in Zimbabwe, confessed to President Mugabe that her hands were tied as she was under pressure to produce a negative report.

What is more, the figure of 700 000 affected she bandied around had been arrived at using mathematical formula, and not hands-on findings, which was strange for a team that was on the ground.

During an interview with Ray Choto on the Studio 7 programme, "Personality of the Week", Tibaijuka also confessed that pressure had been brought to bear on her after Choto asked why the responses she was giving were at variance with the vitriol in her report.

Though Tibaijuka could not say who was pressuring her, it was not difficult to surmise given that on June 27, prior to her departure for Harare, Blair had openly said he was happy that someone he knew and who was also his Commissioner had been chosen to undertake the mission as he expected a "good" report from her.

And to anyone familiar with the stand-off between Harare and London, what is good for Blair where Zimbabwe is concerned is the equivalent of Christmas to turkeys.

The Tibaijuka scenario, however, was not new to Zimbabwe, as former Nigerian president General Abudulsalami Abubakar, who headed the Commonwealth Observer Mission to the 2002 presidential elections, had walked the same tightrope before her.

After freely touring Zimbabwe, talking to, and interacting with the electorate, General Abubakar made very positive comments just three days before the poll, when he paid a courtesy call on President Mugabe at Zimbabwe House. He said reports of violence in the campaign period had been grossly exaggerated by Western media; he was, however, to say the exact opposite in his report after the poll.

A few months later, Abubakar was quoted as saying he was equally surprised by the report, as he was not in agreement with the contents, implying he had not written it, though he had led the mission.

Many other envoys were to be dispatched to Zimbabwe after that, among them Tim Morris and Jan Egeland who were apparently compromised by the same interests that had pressured Tibaijuka.

Which is why the Government should be commended for outflanking recent attempts by the British government that sought to pressure the UN Secretary-General to dispatch a humanitarian envoy to Zimbabwe to vindicate claims that the country had become a humanitarian disaster.

On the flip side, the UN Habitat report should not be surprising as it simply contains what Tibaijuka ought to have written if she had not been compromised by forces inimical to Zimbabwe's national interest.

Zimbabwe's success in housing, achieved on the back of purely domestic resources, is a microcosm of successes registered in many other social sectors.

Zimbabwe notified the UN of its housing crisis way back in 1996 when it submitted a report on the implementation of the economic, social and cultural rights on September 25 1996 in line with articles 16 and 17 of the UN International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, but nothing was forthcoming.

Despite that, statistics from UN Habitat speak for themselves as Zimbabwe has outdone even those countries that received such assistance.

Zimbabwe has a population of 13 million, 36 percent of whom live in urban areas, yet only 3 percent of them live in slum conditions.

Of the 3 percent in slum conditions, 100 percent have access to a water source, 96 percent have improved sanitation, 84 percent have sufficient living area, and 97 percent have durable housing.

This is against an African tragedy that has 72 percent of urban dwellers in slums. To put things into perspective, this writer will juxtapose Zimbabwe's statistics against those for South Africa, issued by the same UN office.

South Africa has a population of 44 million of which 58 percent are urbanites.

Of these 33 percent are in slums. Of the slum dwellers, 92 percent have access to a clean water source, 88 percent have access to sanitation, and 87 percent have sufficient living space while 93 percent have durable housing.

And this is a country considered an African success story. As such where housing delivery is concerned, Zimbabwe's success is unparalleled in sub-Saharan Africa.

Operation Garikai, that seeks to build at least 1,5 million housing units over the next four years, is not only in line with, but will also beat Millennium Development Goal 7 that has a deadline of 2015 by a good six years.

Many other successes have been well documented for instance Zimbabwe, using its own resources after the politicisation of the Global Aids Fund, is one of only three African countries – along with Kenya and Uganda – to have recorded a decline in the HIV and Aids prevalence rate over the past five years.

Zimbabwe also has the highest adult literacy rate in Africa due to the investments made in the education sector, again using mainly domestic resources.

These are, among the successes of self-reliance; the world is denied the right to know by the duplicitous Western media.

But mark this writer's words, with the distribution of land and recently farming implements to newly resettled farmers, very soon the rest of the world will be flocking to Zimbabwe to study how accelerated economic growth can be achieved on the back of indigenisation and strong investment in the agrarian sector.

Mark this writer's words.

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