Saturday, June 25, 2005

Rebuild the homes which we tore down.

Africa: At least it gives the Army something to do other than beating people up.

"President Robert Mugabe has mobilised Zimbabwe's army to build new houses for those made homeless by his "clean-up" operation that flattened and burnt shanty towns across the country. In a policy U-turn following a seven-hour meeting of his politburo, he announced that the military had been ordered to lead a task force to begin reconstruction. "Building brigades" would start work immediately to build houses, shops and markets to replace those destroyed by the police in Operation Murambatsvina (Drive out the Rubbish), said Ephraim Masawi, the politburo spokesman. According to human rights groups, more than one million of the poorest Zimbabweans have been turned into the streets by special police units bulldozing and setting fire to townships. Many, including the very elderly, women with babies and the disabled have been forced to spend freezing nights in the bush without shelter. At least 46,000 have been arrested. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) described yesterday's move as "a panic reaction by Mugabe" to the international outcry over the destruction of the shanty areas. "Any new development these troops build will be cosmetic to deflect criticism ahead of the G8 meeting and the visit of the UN special envoy next week," a spokesman said.

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