|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Report on Internally Displaced Farm Workers
Survey - Kadoma, Chegutu and KweKwe Districts
Zimbabwe Community Development Trust (ZCDT)
Zimbabwe has the greater part of its population forming the agrarian community. Generally, the farming community used to be a peaceful community before the February 2000 constitutional referendum. The population of Zimbabwe voted overwhelmingly against the government's purported people-driven constitution and all hell broke loose. From February 2000 until to date, Zimbabwe had experienced the worst violence, torture, harassment and illegal eviction of commercial farmers and the farm workers under the guise of a land redistribution programme, which was later, code-named "Fast Track Land Resettlement" programme.
Lack of planning and the haphazardness of the process
itself rendered the programme null and void of the initial ideas and major
objectives of land reform in the country. Civil society in the country dismissed
the land resettlement programme as a violent way of fast tracking
disenfranchisement, hunger, starvation, abject poverty and destitution in
Zimbabwe - an analysis that the government vehemently denied.
The reality on the ground is that the violence and lawlessness associated with the programme drove many displaced farm workers into the jungle. (By 'jungle' we mean remote areas of the country where there is no infra-structure - no schools, clinics, electricity, running water and the like.) There they are languishing in poverty and facing famine whilst the absence of formal employment means that they are struggling to make ends meet. These farm workers have become seriously impoverished as a direct result of their displacement and the violent eviction of the commercial farmers.
Non-governmental organisations, particularly Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ), Farm Orphans Support Trust (FOST) the Zimbabwe Community Development Trust (ZCDT), have works established to respond to the needs of the farm workers and their families.
This report is an analysis on the plight of farm workers and their families and is born out of the need to know what is going on so that we can be better able to make our humanitarian response more appropriate. There has been a dearth of reliable information on the plight of these people. Jonathan Moyo, the Information minister has even denied that such a class of people exist. The survey aimed at answering some of the questions that remained unanswered pertaining to the plight of farm workers and the effects of the land reform in an intellectually rigorous way. We believe that it's finding can be defended as free from bias to the kind of politicking that has muddied the waters in the debate over the present agrarian reform programme.
Chegutu, Kadoma and Kwekwe districts house several commercial farms, which were invaded and later on gazetted for resettlement. Some are still operational (though at a lower scale), some have closed down completely, some divided into plots and some taken entirely by the powerful elite in the ruling Zanu (PF) party. The districts straddle an area that had both highly intensive cropping and less intensive livestock farms. While some of their commercial farms would have had large farm worker populations per farm there would have been others with considerably less. Added to this is the fact that the area had its share of real violence making it potentially representative of and appropriate to the wider Zimbabwean picture.
Therefore, the findings of the research will be used to make interventions more effective.
Zimbabwe’s viable commercial farming sector has now gone. Both white and some black commercial farmers and their workers have lost immensely from the fast track land reform programme. The government itself has failed to run a just and equitable land reform policy that benefits its people and the economy. It is now too late to do anything that will make sure people will have food on their tables without outsiders’ assistance. The assessment of the plight of farm workers and the ongoing attitude displayed by government confirms the belief that the government should accept responsibility for the crisis and resign. The long-term intervention strategies need coordination, integration and networking with a good government, its agencies and all stakeholders in creating a vision for the future based on a just, lasting settlement of the land question and on sound policies. ZANU (PF) has pandered to the greed of the new rich oppressors and closed its ears to the cry of the poor.
Assuming the government will not accept failure and resign the following recommendations to the ZANU PF government are made. They are aimed at making an immediate difference in the lives of the displaced farm workers.
Recommendations to a new government. These recommendations are made because it is clear the present regime is morally bankrupt. Nonetheless the problems they have created need to be addressed if we are to recreate a vibrant and wholesome community and society.
Time to unite and claim our
David Jamali, ZimRights National Programmes Co-ordinator
David Jamali is currently a Master Student of Social Science (International Development): RMIT University, Australia
For any successful victory to take place against the oppressor, it is fundamental that pro-advocacy groups unite to crash the oppressor once and for all. Human rights violations in Zimbabwe have reached unprecedented levels. The electorate has become the victim of those they elect and in the case of Zimbabwe we have become the victim of electoral thugs and despots.
The human rights situation has entered a phase one would like to describe as a famous theorist David Potter described as the "Transition Approach". The people of Zimbabwe have passed a stage of national unity (political identity) where everyone agreed that they are Zimbabwean to a situation where we have a new political elite (dispensation) which is trying to carve its own identity and seeking to be identified as a vibrant social movement. We are going through a second phase which David Potter called inconclusive political struggle, conflict between opposing groups, new elites with older elites. At this stage national unity can be torn apart - which is the case now and one group has become powerful and is overwhelming the opposition. After this stage we will go through what David Potter described as a historical moment in other words called the decision phase where the opposing parties decide to compromise and adopt democratic rules which gives each side some share in polity. This is called the first transition, which then leads to the habituation phase (2nd transition), where conscious adoption of democratic rules is done; these rules are put up grudgingly as necessary. The new elites will then become habituated and believe in the rules. When this happens a democratic regime may be said to be firmly established. In this approach it is firmly apparent that, it is not only through political parties that democracy can be achieved but other actors in civil society take an active role. It is very possible to achieve democracy after a protracted struggle against the status quo and the outcome of this may well be a very long lasting democracy because there are rules introduced and the one who goes against them will then have face the same rules. The rules here can be in the form of a democratic constitution to govern the country. The purpose of relating the crisis situation in Zimbabwe to contemporary political and social theory is to assist those in leadership roles in civil society to understand the dynamics of history and to learn from other situations throughout the world.
The biggest force today in the world that has influenced political change on behalf of ordinary citizens is the civil society organisations. In Zimbabwe today there are a number of civil society organisations operating and are very good at what they are doing. The only problem we have in the country is that these struggles (activism work) is being done in isolation, there is no cohesiveness in the approach for better results. One civil society organisation is busy competing with the other making it possible for the current government to take advantage of this situation. It is important for NGOs, churches, opposition political parties, the judiciary and other progressive government departments to unite against tyrants who are making difficult the life of ordinary Zimbabweans. Many people in the country do want change, but do we have the capable leaders who will lead the people to achieve that. IT is arguable that what we need in Zimbabwe is another or more political parties that are viable to challenge the status quo. We have a dangerous situation in the country where we only have one viable opposition parties. History has shown that if the opposition happens to win and take the leadership role without other strong opposition parties we are bound to find ourselves in the same situation as the ZANU-PF government. If there is no one to challenge the new government, they tend to relax and bask in the glory or power. If we have other opposition parties then we will be able to keep the new government on their toes because if they don’t deliver they will know that the strong opposition will replace them. This is the kind of democracy that Zimbabweans should strive for. At the moment we don’t have this, but we can unite as all citizens to fight and restore democracy and in this process new opposition forces will be born.
My contribution is just an attempt to create debate around real issues in the country rather than chasing the wind all the time. In my own personal opinion the real problems are:
1. Lack of respect by the current government to
respect human rights,
2. Isolated activism work by civil society groups,
3. Lack of proper mechanism to confront the government for it to account for its actions,
4. Donors not doing enough to channel resources for united actions,
5. Donors trusting too much, few individuals who are enriching themselves in the process and hence do not care what happens to the ordinary person in the street.
There is also lack of alternative parties to ZANU-PF and MDC which is a very dangerous situation for the country. There is need to come up with a proper strategy to fight the present status quo. One way will be to intensify civic education through teaching people the meaning of the recently enacted laws. The other way is to convince the ordinary person that if they do not rise up and speak out against the human rights violations, no one will ever do that. The other thing is to teach our electorate that checks and balances can only be maintained through establishing more viable opposition movements to guide us from falling into the same trap of one dominating political parties no matter it is ZANU-PF or MDC people should learn from our own experience. After all change will only come when people are empowered with the necessary knowledge and strategies for change. I hope my small contribution to this debate will inspire others to share their valuable knowledge and insights into what can be done to come out of this mess we have found ourselves in. I am part of this problem and has contributed to this development and so is you. The challenge now is what can we do to come out of it. We are now tired of a regime that is not democratic and does not respect the rights of its own people who it claims has elected it into power.
Write to Civic Organisations asking them on their current strategy to redress the human rights situation.
Write to civic organisations offering suggestions on what can be done.