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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    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 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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora