This report is based on research conducted in South Africa between 13 October and 12 November 2007, and on research conducted in Zimbabwe between 11 and 19 February 2008.
In South Africa, in-depth interviews with 99 Zimbabweans (56 female and 43 male) were conducted by a Human Rights Watch researcher and by an independent South African legal consultant, students from the University of Cape Town, and staff working with a legal assistance NGO in Pretoria, all of whom worked closely with the researcher. Interviews were conducted in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Pretoria, and in rural areas close to Cape Town and Pretoria. The locations were chosen because most Zimbabweans in South Africa are believed to live in or near to one of South Africas cities.
Some interviewees were identified one or two days in advance by South African and Zimbabwean civil society groups providing assistance or legal services to Zimbabweans. Others were identified on the day of the interviews by Human Rights Watch. Interviewees were identified and selected by explaining to groups of Zimbabweans that Human Rights Watch wanted to speak with people who had faced difficulties in Zimbabwe relating to food, shelter, employment, health care, and education, and to people who had been affected by Operation Murambatsvina (the 2005 evictions). Interviews were conducted with a wide range of profiles including single men and single women (with and without extended families in Zimbabwe), couples with or without children, married men and women who had left their partners and/or children in Zimbabwe, and female-headed households with and without their children in South Africa. Interviews were conducted individually in confidential settings, in English, and lasted an average of 45 minutes.
Human Rights Watch conducted a further 28 interviews with government officials, members of the Refugee Appeals Board, UNHCR, South African lawyers, local and international NGOs, and academics.
In Zimbabwe, two Human Rights Watch researchers conducted 26 interviews (18 female and 8 male) with Zimbabweans in Harare and Bulawayo. Interviewees were identified with the assistance of a number of local NGOs providing assistance to people displaced by Operation Murambatsvina and to others in need of social assistance. Interviews were conducted individually in confidential settings and lasted an average of 45 minutes. Almost all were conducted in English, though a small number were conducted in English and Shona using local Shona speakers as interpreters.
In Harare and Bulawayo, Human Rights Watch conducted a further 20 interviews with UN staff and with staff from local and international NGOs.
Human Rights Watch did not publish in the report the names of Zimbabweans who were interviewed because of a fear that the disclosure of their identity might expose them to adverse consequences.