Combined Harare Residents’ Association Visit to Abahlali: mid June 2007

14 June 2007

Combined Harare Residents Association Visit Abahlali baseMjondolo

Last year Philani Zungu from Abahlali visited Harare. Anilliah Mosaraure and Beatrice Ngwenya of the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) are currently visiting Abahlali baseMjondolo staying in the Motala Heights and Pemary Ridge settlements in advance of a meeting between Abahlali and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition. CHRA have a website at

Initial comments by Anilliah Mosaraure:


In Zimbabwe they have destroyed all the shacks. At least here they are still recognised. Here they have taken access to electricity from the powerlines. We can t do that in Zimbabwe. Even water is protected here. That impressed me very much.

We are happy to see that here Abahlali work as a community and that even the finances are fully controlled by the community. That it is very impressive.

After being recognised by the council the garbage is being collected once a week and the toilets are cleaned twice a week comparing with the situation in our country.

Initial comments by Beatrice Ngwenya:


Here the skills of the struggle are passed on to every comrade. They can even connect electricity safely and there is a team that passes on the skills to other comrades so that everyone learns how to do it safely. This way of passing on all the skills of the struggle to everybody is very impressive.

We are also very impressed that everyone is united here in Abahlali. The blacks and the Indians they are united. There is no division. And here they come out in very large numbers. Young men and women struggle in their numbers. This is very impressive. And we have seen that here your flyers are all in your own language. This is very impressive. In Zimbabwe our flyers are always in English.

In Zimbabwe we can t have more than 4 or 5 people meeting. The police will stop us. We are very much urging Abahlali to make use of this opportunity while the government still allows them to meet and to organise. This opportunity will not last for ever. It must be used now.

There is more starvation in Zimbabwe because before the people could do some vending but during Murambatsvina it was destroyed. Even the water is not up to standard and not just for the shacks. The water for the whole city is not safe. And sewers are open, refuse is not collected. There is no medication in the clinics. When we are fighting for our rights as citizens – water, housing and these things – we are taken as if we are trying to be politicians. There are no rights for citizens. There are only rights for party card holders. You must be the holder of a party card to get something. We are fighting for rights for everyone. For example some few informal traders got a place to stay after Murambatsvina but they must be party card holders to get the place. As socialists we say that this is unfair. We are urging the comrades here to fight while they still can. But don t take too long lest you end up like us.

We encourage much solidarity action between socialists in CHRA and Abahlali. If possible we should have solidarity via the website and exchange visits.


As we take stock of Operation Murambatsvina 2 years down the line, we are confronted with the reality of whole families – father, mother and children; some of whom are teens – living in a single makeshift plastic shack along Mukuvisi River, stripping them of their human dignity and exposing them not only to cholera and other health hazards; but also to a life worse than they have led in the concrete and brick structures they were living in before the Operation.

Harare being the most affected city by the Operation has the highest number of people who are still living in the open or in makeshift shelters made of plastics and cardboards. This is because most of the beneficiaries of the Operation Garikai/Hlanani Kuhle, which is made up of uncompleted structures, were genuine party supporters.

Compared to the previous concrete and brick structures where people used to live in, the houses of Operation Garikai/Hlanani Kuhle show a total failure by the government as these sites have now turned into squatter camps. To make matters worse there is no sewer and water reticulation systems in these areas leading to health hazards and even loss of lives.

Vending and informal sector which is a source of livelihood for many people in a country which has over 80% of its potential labour force unemployed was not spared by the Operation as this was labeled illegal. The promise to build formal market places has not been fulfilled up to now leaving many of these people operating with fear of being harassed by militia and council police. This is leading to an increase in risky sexual practices and large numbers of Zimbabweans migrating to neighbouring countries like South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique etc.

People living with HIV/AIDS have been deprived of access to treatment and anti-retroviral drugs die to displacement leading to loss of lives and child-headed families exposing children to different forms of abuse e.g. school drop out, theft and prostitution. Groups focusing on women empowerment have not been spared thus depriving them of their rights.

All citizens of Zimbabwe are hard hit by these challenges, the sick, the disadvantaged and the marginalized have been further pushed into vulnerability and abject poverty.

Our position as the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) on Operation Murambatsvina is that all the affected victims would be compensated for their losses. The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) believes that human rights principles are the true bona fide yardstick to judge the credibility of the Operation. Indeed those who spearheaded this brutal campaign should be held accountable.

After all has been said and done Zimbabweans need support from our fellow Comrades in the outer world.

Thank you