The African Union (AU) envoy who arrived in Zimbabwe last week to evaluate the impact of the controversial demolition of informal settlements has left the country without completing his mission, according to official media.
AU spokesman Adam Thiam confirmed that Bahame Tom Nyanduga, a member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, Special Rapporteur Responsible for Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, left Zimbabwe on Thursday. He was unable to comment on the details of his mission or departure.
However, the official Herald newspaper, quoting official sources, reported on Friday that Nyanduga's mission was "unprocedural", as diplomatic protocol had not been followed.
During the cleanup campaign, launched in May, thousands of informal settlements have been demolished and at least 375,000 people left homeless; the authorities have claimed it was part of an urban renewal strategy that will eventually build 10,000 homes at a cost of US $300 million.
According to Zimbabwean television, the demolition drive has been endorsed by Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr David Parirenyatwa, who described the exercise as a "breath of fresh air".
The minister was quoted as saying that prior to the cleanup operation he had been unable to implement the Public Health Act "because of the situation that there was in Harare and other cities in this country: the overcrowding, the degree of sewage, the danger to clean water supplies, the number of rodents that have sprouted up, the number of street children ..."