News / Africa

White Zimbabwe Farmers say Politics Trumps Justice at SADC Summit


Joe DeCapua

Southern African leaders leaders have given themselves another six months to review a 2008 tribunal ruling on Zimbabwe land reform.  The decision not to act came at this week’s Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Windhoek, Namibia. A SADC tribunal had ruled that nearly 80 white Zimbabwe farmers had their land unfairly taken from them due to their race.

John Worsely-Worswick, chief executive officer of the Justice for Agriculture Trust (JAG) in Zimbabwe, says he considers the SADC tribunal a human rights court.

“We’re very, very concerned,” he says, “because as far as we’re concerned this is overdue already in terms of action being taken.”

President Robert Mugabe has ignored the ruling, saying it failed to take into account a 1979 agreement with Britain about land reform following independence. The tribunal has found the government to be in contempt three times.

“The farmers that went there (tribunal) for protection and the farm workers…have not been protected at all,” he says.

Business as usual?

Worsely-Worswick says the decision to have a six month review of the tribunal ruling comes as no surprise.

“This has been the case for a long time with the Mugabe regime,” he says, “And it’s a case of always politics versus the law.  In the country here it’s always been the politics that have ruled….  And now for the first time we’ve seen the same effect, political effect, in a regional court.”

He says even if SADC leaders agree to enforce the ruling, things cannot return to the way they were prior to the farm seizures.

“We are not against land reform at all.  One has got to understand though that what we witnessed in the last 10 years here in Zimbabwe is not land reform at all….  It’s destroyed agriculture in the country and even communal area agriculture.  So certainly carrying on with the status quo is not a way forward,” he says.

The JAG leader says a “new way forward” must be found and “a just solution for all.”

Agriculture was king

He describes Zimbabwe as an agriculture driven based economy.  “We don’t see a way forward driven by either mining or tourism.  Certainly that’s not going to create the stability that’s required in terms of employment in the country…food security and also the foreign currency security that’s required,” he says.

He’s calling for a “de-politicized level playing field.”

“Issues with regard to tenure of the land, the title to the land, and we have a historical injustice dating back a hundred years on that front....  These issues need to be dealt with in the national interest and in the interest of citizens of Zimbabwe without political effect,” he says.

Recently, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program said despite agricultural improvements in the country, nearly 1.7 million Zimbabweans will still need food aid over the next year.

Worsely-Worswick says agriculture has suffered greatly in recent years.

“Most of production has dropped by 80 percent.  The only area that hasn’t dropped was really on cotton production and that’s because it lends itself to smallholder production.  And then for the first time we’ve seen a reversal slightly in the level of tobacco production,” he says.

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs