Writer Robert Neuwirth, author of Shadow Cities, recently traveled the world to write on the “squatter cities” that spring up in the world’s largest developing urban areas. His blog has also been chronicling Robert Mugabe’s campaign to “drive out the rubbish” in Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s term for the government-run destruction of thousands of homes in the country.
Sokwanele is one of the resistance groups that have formed against Mugabe. In their last email (and on their website), they highlight some of the environmental effects of Mugabe’s campaign. In addition to the massive human toll, the displaced residents have moved to Gonarezhou National Park, and many have begun poaching the previously protected game and using the grasslands for domesticated animals to graze.
The previously undisturbed ecosystem was part of a plan for a regional Transfrontier National Park, as it borders parks in Mozambique and South Africa. Sokwanele says the invasion of the park by displaced settlers has now scuttled any such plans.