Pillar to Post

Tanyaradzwa was coming from school when she heard the noise of the caterpillar and bulldozers. It was uncommon to see caterpillars and bull dozers in a high density suburb like Mufakose. From a distant, the terrifying sound and noise of the caterpillars could be heard. It was lunch hour. Like other kids Tanyaradzwa was rushing home to enjoy her unfinished slices of bread. Tanyaradzwa was always late for school. On this fateful day, Tanya as she was normally called by her mom had been late for school by almost thirty-minutes. Her mother had forgotten to pack her small white lunch box in her paper bag. To this end, Tanyaradzwa was very hungry. As she rushed home for lunch, all what was in her mind was the home-made slices of bread spread with peanut butter. She also remembered that she had left a piece of biltong (dried meat) meat from the previous supper.

Tanyaradzwa could not even delay any second playing fishy-fishy (a childhood game played by young girls). She headed straight for home. As she neared towards home, she saw a huge smoke curling into the thin air. Their homestead was covered in dust and black smoke. Small kids of her age were clapping hands and following the soldiers and guys who were operating the caterpillars. Tanya’s mother was lying on top of their little belongings. She was crying uncontrollably. She was visibly shaken. ‘Oh! God my house, my house!” she could be heard shouting at the top of her shrill voice. However, all her cries fell on deaf ears. Tanya was quick to recognize that their cabin made from wood and plastic had been razed down to the ground.

 

To make matters worse, it was winter period. Tanya and her mother had no food, water nor shelter. The cold spell came. They cuddled together during the long, painful and sleepless nights. They cuddled together, trying to share the warmth of their bodies. A place they used to call home had been reduced to mere rubbles. The memory of the plastic shack they used to call a place of permanency was still fresh in their minds. This was an era of Operation Murambatsvina (Clean-up campaign) that was carried by the Zimbabwean government to wipe away illegal structures in the urban areas. In the words of the South African Judge Ngcobo we are reminded that,

It is not only the dignity of the poor that is assailed when homeless people are driven from pillar to post in a desperate quest for a place where they and their families can rest their heads. Our society as a whole is demeaned when State action intensifies rather then mitigates their marginalization. The integrity of the rights-based vision of the Constitution is punctured when governmental action augments rather than reduces denial of the claims of the desperately poor to the basic elements of a decent existence.

For Tanyaradzwa, (Tanya) it will take a very long period for her to forget how their house was destroyed. As she continues with her primary education at a local school in her maternal parents’ rural area in Musana communal lands, the sight of the bulldozers still haunts her in her sleep. For Tanya’s mom, being a single mom has not been easy. Being evicted and sleeping in the cold, chilly and long July nights with a young child was not easy either. In the end, it is the poor people who are at the receiving end of the effects and impact policy inconsistency in Africa!

 

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