News / Africa

Dozens of People Face Eviction From Zimbabwe Farms

Family members of evicted farm workers cook breakfast on the side of the road outside Mvurwi village, about 130 kilometers west of Harare, May 2008. (file photo)
Family members of evicted farm workers cook breakfast on the side of the road outside Mvurwi village, about 130 kilometers west of Harare, May 2008. (file photo)

It has been more than 10 years since President Robert Mugabe’s government began seizing white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to poor blacks.

The beneficiaries were his supporters, however, with many of the elite, including the presidential couple, acquiring multiple farms. The seizures in Zimbabwe left thousands of farm hands, who used to work for the white farmers, jobless, destitute and facing eviction.

Workers at the Mgutu Farm in Mazowe, about 40 kilometers north of Harare, are deliberating their looming eviction. It follows a complaint by new owner Kingstone Dutiro to the authorities that they are illegally occupying his land. Dutiro acquired the land after Archie Black, the original owner, was evicted in 2000.

The state is now prosecuting the 85 workers who, with their families, face eviction. The farm workers, mostly of Malawian origin, have worked on the farm for many years, some for more than four decades. They say they have nowhere to go.

Painful repercussions

Seventy-two-year-old Binias Yolamu, who came to Zimbabwe in 1964 from Mozambique when he was 24, no longer has any links with his birth place.

“I worked here for 48 years. I grew up here. I will die here. When the white farmer [Archie Black] left, he said the compound, the engine to pump water and electricity was all ours," Yolamu said. "I will go nowhere. All my relatives in Mozambique perished during the civil war of the 1970-80s. I have forgotten everything about Mozambique. I will die in Zimbabwe and here at this farm.”

Tarisayi Papaya, a 42-year-old widow with five children, is one of the farm workers facing eviction. She thinks Mugabe’s land reform has taken a wrong turn.

“It is painful that we are now being evicted from this farm. When the land reform started we were all excited. We were told that all black people would live together peacefully," said Papaya. "Now the government has turned against us. We hope there will be divine intervention to ensure that we are not evicted.”

Neria Ndalama of Malawian origins shares the same sentiments.

“My parents, who are both deceased, came from Malawi. So I cannot find my way back. There is no point in chasing us away. It really pains me that the land reform program wants to displace us. We have not developed tails for us to be treated like animals,” said Ndalama.

At the compound, there is a woman named Angela.

“We used to have water taps at this farm. War veterans disconnected them. We do not know why and where they took them. We have cases of so many children having a problem with waterborne diseases because we now drink untreated water from the river,” she said.

Legal representation to help

The workers are being represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who had come to Mgutu to discuss the case with their clients.

While there, they were confronted by so-called war veterans - supporters of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF who have led the farm invasions since the chaotic and often violent land reform program began in 2000. Most are too young to be veterans of the country’s liberation war.

They told the lawyers they had no right to be on Mgutu farm.

“We do not know what is going on here? This is our place. You did not seek our authority to be here. I do not care about what the court papers say. They were written by a human being who can make mistakes," said one such "war veteran."

The lawyers did not give in and continued to interview their clients until eventually the war veterans dispersed.

The lawyers are challenging the evictions as unconstitutional. Lawyer Jeremiah Bamu said the law used in the acquisition of land was crafted with a narrow approach that will only create internal refugees.

“No government should ever be allowed to promulgate a law that leads its own citizens into destitution. The government has a primary duty to protect the rights of its citizens and not to take away those rights by forcing them into destitution,” said Bamu.

Farm owner Dutiro scoffs at suggestions the workers are being ill-treated. Instead he accuses them of sabotage and working for the
Chinese.

“These people are working for the Chinese. Those Chinese offer them accommodation. They are making allegations that they do not have anywhere to go. That is not true. They are refusing for other reasons. They are engaged in sabotage and stealing produce,” Dutiro said.

Questioning Chinese intervention

Many Zimbabweans believe they are disadvantaged by the influx of Chinese businesses and workers in recent years.

Gift Muti, spokesperson for the General Agricultural Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe, said farm workers have suffered a great deal since Mugabe’s government started seizing white-owned land more than a decade ago.

“We have lost 75% of our members. There was a lot of movement. They lost employment, lost their accommodation and wages. Their children cannot attend formal education. Those who benefited are less than 0.5 percent. It was a little figure of those who benefited. The rest did not. It is unfortunate most of them do not have rural homes,” said Muti.

Some 4,000 white farmers have been evicted from their farms since 2000 and about 250 remain. They employed about 40,000 workers. Together the farmers and their workers were responsible for the overwhelming volume of commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe, the country’s primary source of foreign currency.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs