[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 24 June 2005, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Why Africa won't condemn Zimbabwe blitz
By Elizabeth Blunt
BBC News

Foreign ministers from the G8 grouping of the world's richest and most powerful countries have called on other African leaders to denounce the forced evictions which are causing so much suffering in Zimbabwe.

Children sitting in front of demolished shack near Harare
Some children in Zimbabwe have left school after their homes were demolished
Yet many of those other African governments have overseen similar brutal evictions in their own countries, and yet have suffered very little outside criticism.

The sad truth is that what is going on in Zimbabwe at the moment is not at all unusual.

From one end of Africa to the other, governments have set about slum clearance schemes without any consideration for the people who live there, or any sense of responsibility for what happens to them afterwards.


Nigeria, the current chair of the African Union, was the scene of a huge mass eviction in 1990, when around 300,000 people were bulldozed out of the Maroko neighbourhood in Lagos in a single week to make way for corporate office buildings and executive villas.

Soldiers cleared the Washington area of Abidjan in Ivory Coast at gunpoint in 2002, turning people out of their homes, sometimes with less than an hour's notice.

See before and after images of township clearance in Harare.

Hundreds of families in Bonaberi area of Douala in Cameroon, lost their homes in similar purges.

In every case it was absolutely true that the areas were unsanitary, and the houses built without permission, yet there was never any sense that these exercises were being carried out to give residents a better place to live.

The evicted families inevitably were driven further to the margins and ended up living in even worse conditions.

The victims of the Zimbabwe eviction are lucky that because of the political campaign being run against President Robert Mugabe, both inside and outside the country, there are well-organised and well-funded people calling attention to their plight.

But it seems unlikely that Africa's other leaders will sympathise with the displaced rather than with a fellow president cleaning up his country's city, and will speak out on their behalf.

See the bulldozers move in on the houses


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific