Operation Garikai / Hlalami, properly Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle (Better Life). started in June 2005, and was a follow-up to, and attempt to mitigate, Operation Murambatsvina. It was supposed to build houses for those ‘removed’ during the forced evictions of the operation. Augustine Chihuri reportedly said the Murambatsvina operation was to “clean the country of the crawling mass of maggots bent on destroying the economy”. [1] "Please ask [President] Mugabe what it is they want from us. What is the dirt they want to clear out – is it us?" asked a woman who lost her home and livelihood during Operation Murambatsvina, Bulawayo. [2]

The building programme fell far short of that needed resulting from the destruction programme, and 20 percent were allocated to civil servants, police officers and soldiers anyways.


A year after the opeation started, Amnesty International reported on progress. Government had failed to provide better housing for people who lost their homes during the so-called clean-up. The findings revealed that only 3 325 houses had been constructed compared to the 92 460 homes destroyed during the blitz.

Kolawole Olaniyan, Amnesty International’s Africa programme director made it clear that Operation Garikai was wholly inadequate.

  • Hundreds of thousands of people evicted during the operation had been left to find their own solutions to their homelessness. Very few houses have been constructed.
  • The majority of those designated as “built” were incomplete-— lacking doors, windows, floors and even roofs, and did not have access to proper water or sanitation facilities.
  • Many of the few houses that have been built are not only uninhabited, but uninhabitable.
  • Many people were being allocated small bare plots of land, often without access to water and sanitation, on which they had to build their own homes with no state assistance.
  • Despite the fact that Operation Garikai had been presented as a programme under which government would build homes for victims of the blitz, in most parts of the country, no assessment has ever been carried out to identify the victims or to establish where they are now.
  • Government has made it clear that at least 20% of the houses will go to civil servants, police officers and soldiers — rather than those whose homes were demolished in Operation Murambatsvina.
  • In 2006, 83% of the population of Zimbabwe survived on much less than the UN income poverty line of US$2 a day. The unemployment rate stood at about 80%.
  • AI called for Operation Garikai to be subjected to an urgent and comprehensive review to bring it in line with the Zimbabwean government’s human rights obligations.


The portofolio committee’s report to parliament, whose objectives included ‘to assess progress on the construction of houses and vendor marts under Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle’, ‘lamented the failure’ on many occasions. Some examples:

  • In Gweru, although the initial target was 100 houses, 106 housing units were at various stages of construction and 14 of these were fully functional and were occupied by beneficiaries. The beneficiaries were victims of Operation Murambatsvina and persons on the Council’s waiting list who were capable of paying rentals for the houses. Even those who were not formally employed could benefit from the houses built under Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle as long as they could prove that they had a source of income.
  • Under phase two, 997 stands had been allocated to individuals, companies and cooperatives.
  • During its tour of vendor marts in Gweru, the Committee heard that there was no water at the site and the toilet was still under construction, the vendors had to rely on toilets at the nearby wholesale market.
  • During the tour, the Committee was shown two model houses, which had been extended from the original two-roomed core house into a four-roomed and a seven-roomed house respectively. * The Committee was informed that the seven-roomed house had been allocated to an employee of Parliament whose name had been drawn from the Council’s waiting list dating back to 1987.
  • The Committee was informed that under phase two of Operation Garikai /Hlalani Kuhle, there were 8000 stands to be allocated to 10 individuals, cooperatives and companies.

(It should be noted that no victims had sources of incomes. Stands were being allocated rather than housing provided, and allocated to companies and cooperatives as well as individuals / victims, 8000 stands to 10 names. The seven roomed house went to a civil servant.)

The report’s Conclusion and Recommendations:

  • Erratic disbursement of allocated funds contributed to the failure by the Ministry to meet its targets.
  • Shortage of fuel was one of the major challenges encountered by the Ministry.

Adequate funding be made available:

  • To finish all housing units, vendor marts and factory shells.
  • For the provision of water and sewerage reticulation at all sites.

And that victims of Operation Murambatsvina be given priority in the allocation of houses and vendor Marts. Further, that government:

  • Develops and implements a comprehensive National Housing Policy.
  • Builds adequate rented accommodation to cater for low-income earners.
  • Housing cooperatives be encouraged and supported by government to provide accommodation to their members under the aided self-help scheme.
  • That in future, proper planning be done before government embarks on national construction programmes.


Parliament heard that the housing units built were insufficient to service the needs of the thousands who were left homeless after government’s brutal Operation Murambatsvina. More than 700 000 people were left stranded after houses and shacks were bulldozed, while informal trader's stalls were demolished and their goods confiscated, leaving them without a livelihood. National Housing and Social Amenities minister Fidelis Mhashu told Parliament in November 2009, that there was an audit of the requirements of houses that were demolished. “We came up with a figure of 7 487 housing units required and out of that list of houses required, the ministry was able to come up with housing units built to the tune of US$4 205,” Mhashu said.

United Nations Special Envoy Anna Tibaijuka visited Zimbabwe in the wake of Murambatsvina and said the operation had breached both national and international human rights law. General Constantine Chiwenga, chief of Zimbabwe’s defence forces, and Augustine Chihuri, chief of police, were directly involved in the planning and execution of the operation. Chihuri reportedly said the operation was to “clean the country of the crawling mass of maggots bent on destroying the economy”. International legal experts view Operation Murambatsvina as a gross violation of human rights and, should Zimbabwe become a signatory to the Rome Treaty, suggest the perpetrators could be tried by the International Criminal Court. [1]

Other reports centered on the revelation that contrary to government statements almost none of the victims of Operation Murambatsvina have benefited from the rebuilding, with only some 3,325 houses constructed -- compared to the 92,460 homes destroyed. Many were allocated small bare plots of land, often without access to water and sanitation, on which they had to build their own homes with no assistance. Satellite images of just four sites in Zimbabwe showed more than 5,000 houses destroyed -- demonstrating that the government's much-publicised rebuilding programme has produced fewer houses nationwide than were destroyed in just a fraction of the country. And despite having destroyed their only source of income, the government expected the few victims of the mass evictions to whom houses or serviced land plots are "available" to pay for them. [5]

"The Zimbabwean government has attempted to cover up mass human rights violations with a public relations exercise," said Kolawole Olaniyan. "The victims of Operation Murambatsvina were amongst the poorest people in Zimbabwe. The evictions and demolition of their homes drove them into even deeper poverty -- losing what little they had, such as clothes, furniture and even food. Now the Zimbabwean government is unabashedly asking them to pay for incomplete and sub-standard structures -- or for the stands on which to build a home -- at prices that would have been well beyond their reach even before their homes and livelihoods were destroyed last year."

Currently, 83 percent of the population of Zimbabwe survives on less than the UN income poverty line of US $2 dollars a day. The unemployment rate stands at about 80 percent. Amnesty International called for Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle to be subjected to an urgent and comprehensive review to bring it in line with the Zimbabwean government's human rights obligations. It also called on the government of Zimbabwe to seek international assistance to address the immediate housing and humanitarian needs of its population if it cannot do so itself. "Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle is a total failure as a remedy," said Kolawole Olaniyan. "Moreover, in its execution it has resulted not in remedies but in further violations of human rights." [5]

Further Reading

The portfolio report: [4]

The Amnesty International report: [2] Or contact:
Amnesty International's press office in London, UK,
+44 20 7413 5566,
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW.
web: http://www.amnesty.org






  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle failure, The Zimbabwean, Published: 24 November 2009, Retrieved: 29 December 2019
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Zimbabwe - No Justice for the Victims of Forced Evictions, refworld, Published: 8 September 2006, Retrieved: 29 December 2019
  3. 3.0 3.1 Operation Garikai a failure: Amnesty International, The Independent, Published: 22 July 2005, Retrieved: 29 December 2019
  4. 4.0 4.1 Second report of the portfolio committee on local government on progress made on the operation garikai /hlalani kuhle programme, Kubatana / Veritas, Presented to Parliament: June 2002, Retrieved: 29 December 2019
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Zimbabwe: Housing policy built on foundation of failures and lies, Relief Web, Published: 8 September 2006, Retrieved: 29 December 2019
  6. [Dorman, Sara Rich, Understanding Zimbabwe: From Liberation to Authoritarianism], Understanding Zimbabwe: From Liberation to Authoritarianism, (C. Hurst and Co, United Kingdom, 2016), Retrieved: 15 October 2019