News / Africa

Zimbabwe Farm Workers Destitute After Eviction

Displaced farm workers staying along the road from Harare to Bulawayo in Chegutu, Zimbabwe, Oct. 8, 2013. (Sebastian Mhofu for VOA)
Displaced farm workers staying along the road from Harare to Bulawayo in Chegutu, Zimbabwe, Oct. 8, 2013. (Sebastian Mhofu for VOA)
In Zimbabwe, some farm workers and their families are living in the open after being evicted by a new black farm owner, raising questions about President Robert Mugabe's land reform policy, which he says is meant to correct the ills of white-minority rule and benefit all black Zimbabweans. 
 
For more than a week now, nine families have been living in a field by the side of the road near Westfield, the farm where they used to live and work for a white owner, after a black farmer evicted them. They have no running water, and no toilets. The nine families are made up of nearly 40 people.
 
“I am feeling pain because it is not easy to stay… [by] the tarred road.  My problem is that my kids are not going to school now… I feel pain because, me, I am a black man; I am not a white man.  But the black man harasses me.  I do not know what is happening.  I think I am not a Zimbabwean now, if I was Zimbabwean we sit and talk,” said Vurayayi Vurayayi, one of those living in the field.
 
Zimbabwe’s land reform program, which started in 2000, has driven most white commercial farmers off their land and replaced them with mainly black peasant farmers. 
 
President Robert Mugabe claims the program is meant to correct the injustices of white-minority rule and benefit black Zimbabweans, but it seems these new farmers are now hurting black workers by evicting them.
 
A 37-year-old pregnant woman who refused to give her name said the nine evicted families are living in desperate conditions.
 
It is painful because they are being treated like slaves, she said. The whole family is staying by the road, and is now impoverished.  They have no food and no blankets, yet have nowhere else to go.
 
On Tuesday, a court declared the evictions illegal, after Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights brought a case to court. Despite this, Peter Rupiya, the manager of Westfield farm, said he would not be abide by the court decision since the issue of land reform was sensitive in Zimbabwe.
 
"We take orders from those above us," he said. "They will call us on what direction to take.  This is a tricky issue; that is why I am trying to talk to you [lawyers].  I am not really willing to get involved in the matter.  There are very senior people involved in this matter.  I will not mention their names, they have been here.  That is why I do not want to have these people back,” said Rupiya.
 
Kennedy Masiye, from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said he would go back to court in two weeks’ time to get a final order to ensure the farm workers can return to their homes.
 
“I did not expect to see what I saw.  They were children who were living in the open, women.  There was no water.  Clearly, what motivated me was the way they were apparently evicted which was arbitrary, barbaric.  There was no court order whatsoever,” explained Masiye. 
 
With the rainy season expected to start this month, these farm workers can only hope that they will have roofs over their heads again soon.

You May Like

Sunni-Shi’ite Divide Threatens Stability of Middle East

Ancient dispute that traces back to the Islamic Revolution fueling modern day unrest More

Shifting Demographics Lie Beneath Racial Tensions in Ferguson

As Missouri suburb morphed from majority white to majority black, observer say power structure remained static More

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Restriction is toughest since Soviet era, though critics reject move as patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid