Mugabe invites Annan to view 'clean-up' campaign25/07/2005 - 17:54:10
President Robert Mugabe has invited UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to inspect a so-called urban clean-up campaign for himself, after Annan’s envoy slammed the destruction of slums, the state-run Herald newspaper reported today.
At the United Nations Annan said he would accept the invitation to see the campaign’s effects first-hand. Annan also said he told Mugabe that those affected in the campaign must be given housing.
No date for a visit has been set, he said.
Mugabe extended the invitation during a telephone conversation on Friday, when the envoy’s report was released, presidential spokesman George Charamba was quoted as saying during a state visit to China.
UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka said Zimbabwe’s Operation Murambatsvina – Drive Out Trash – had “unleashed chaos and untold human suffering” in a country already gripped by economic crisis.
Some 700,000 lost their homes or jobs, and a further 2.4 million people have been affected by the countrywide campaign that began with little warning on May 19, her report to Annan said.
Zimbabwe’s government denounced the report as biased and wrong, saying the campaign was necessary to reduce crime and restore order in overcrowded slums and illegal markets.
Opposition leaders claim the demolition campaign is aimed at breaking up their strongholds among the urban poor and driving their supporters into rural areas, where they can be more easily controlled by government-allied chiefs.
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