Displacement and livelihoods: the longer term impacts of Operation Murambatsvina

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Introduction: Operation Murambatsvina and rural-urban linkages in Africa
As evident from the quotations above, a major objective of Operation Murambatsvina (OM) was to displace, forcibly, to rural areas those urban people whose houses were demolished.The government's own statistics indicated that about 570,000 people, or 133,534 households, were potentially subject to such displacement, this being the estimate of the population housed in the 92,460 dwelling units demolished throughout the country (Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, 2005, cited in Tibaijuka, 2005).

There is one explicit and one implicit assumption underlying the government’s argument that the displaced should 'return' to rural areas. Explicitly, it assumes that they all originated from rural areas - since they were being told to 'return'. Implicitly, it assumes the displaced could find sufficient livelihood opportunities in rural areas to subsist. Neither of these were true, as will be shown below. Furthermore, and crucially, the forced displacements were a flagrant breach of human rights on a massive scale. The government's arguments and related rhetoric, however, were founded (however manipulatively) on the reality of continued linkages between rural and urban areas in Zimbabwe, and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, which are briefly surveyed below.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Hidden Dimensions of Operation Murambatsvina in Zimbabwe
EditorsMaurice Vambe
Place of PublicationHarare
PublisherWeaver Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)978-1-77922-071-4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Zimbabwe
  • Harare
  • Informal sector
  • Evictions
  • Displacment
  • Urbanization
  • Migration


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