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

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora