Life without a destination
Their itinerant life began in 2001, a year after President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government began implementing the land reform programme, which saw thousands of white farmers - who employed an estimated 320,000 to 350,000 farm workers - displaced to make way for landless black Zimbabweans.
Her husband was seriously injured when their employer’s farm was taken over; he later died. Bhamu settled on a nearby farm where she was hired as a labourer, but several years later, that farm was also taken over.
She now lives in a plastic-and-cardboard shelter in rural Goromonzi, about 40km southeast of the capital Harare. Her grandson begs for food and money nearby. The police have warned her that they intend to destroy her makeshift shelter.
“Since 2001, when our employer was chased away by the war veterans, I have been moving from one place to another and, as you can see, this is where I have ended up. Who knows, you might find me gone if you return tomorrow, but then, I don’t know my next destination,” Bhamu told IRIN.
|First, it was black people invading white farmers’ land and now it is resettled farmers against their black comrades|
“Since the beginning of the land reform programme, things have not been stable. First, it was black people invading white farmers’ land and now it is resettled farmers against their black comrades, but it is us [farm workers] who suffer the most,” Bhamu said.
Unknown number of IDPs
Thabani Nyoni, spokesperson for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) - an umbrella organization of more than 350 NGOs - told IRIN, “Even though we don’t have specific figures of affected former farm workers, I can vouchsafe that the numbers are disturbingly high. The land reform programme created a number of problems for farm workers, problems that still persist.”
Although the government has called for a more comprehensive nationwide survey of internally displaced persons (IDPs), one has yet to be conducted, contributing to “the lack of information on the scale of continuing internal displacement,” said a December 2011 report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
|Whenever ownership disputes arise, the workers are disregarded|
Nyoni said a tense political atmosphere is complicating humanitarian interventions, because the displacements mostly involve high-ranking officials. Aid agencies and members of civil society fear being labelled political enemies for helping out farm workers, he said.
A 2008 report by IDMC noted, “Indeed, so sensitive is the issue of displacement in Zimbabwe that IDPs… are not even called IDPs but instead have come to be referred to as ‘mobile and vulnerable populations’”.
Women and children
After her husband died, Bhamu tried to find shelter at her home town, Mutoko, but the community leadership turned her down. “The headman said he could not give me a place to build a home because I left the area a long time ago. He also said I did not have an identity card, which I lost when we moved from one place to another, but I think he gave me all those excuses just because I am a woman, and they think I sympathise with whites,” she said.
Bhamu’s grandson does not have a birth certificate; he has attended school only sporadically.
Women and children are worst affected by the displacements, Nyoni observed. “Women, who [are] about 50 percent of the victims, face the burden of adjusting to new situations through livelihood activities such as fetching firewood, looking for food and caring for the children, who suffer the shocks that come with violence-related movements,” he said.
About 10 families that were ejected in April from a farm in Norton, about 50km west of Harare, have set up camp along a nearby river, joining about 100 other people living in an informal settlement there.
“The government should give us land to build our own houses,” Ben Bhauleni, 30, one of the evictees, told IRIN. “We don’t have money to join housing cooperatives, and we fail to understand why we should continue to be victims of other people’s disputes over the farms."
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
ZANU PF takes over grain loan scheme in Masvingo
By Tererai Karimakwenda
21 September 2012
A government scheme meant to assist villagers in need of grain has been
hijacked by ZANU PF officials in Masvingo, who are selecting only members of
their own party as beneficiaries.
Reports from Rupike, Tugwane, Mavizhu, Muchibwa, and Maburutse villages in
Masvingo province said that villagers are facing starvation while ZANU PF
politicians abuse the government scheme.
According to a report from the Crisis Coalition, villages had, “properly put
their names forward and submitted photocopies of their identity particulars”.
But local councillors and traditional leaders are being used to alter
distribution lists and only ZANU PF members are receiving seeds and
fertilizer, meant for all in need.
A team from the Crisis Coalition spoke to a villager who said: “We are
starving here, we have no food. The major problem is that when food is
distributed we are not given because they say we are MDC members. Lots of
food is being distributed but we are left in the cold because of our
The strategy of politicizing food donations has been used by ZANU PF
regularly over the years, to try and increase their support base ahead of
elections. The donations are usually accompanied by threats to the
recipients, who are ordered to vote for Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF candidates
if they accept the food.
The same strategy has already been used in other parts of the country,
especially in Manicaland, where villagers are being told to report the
incidents to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC). But
the provincial JOMIC teams have no power to change anything.
The loan scheme was introduced by the inclusive government last year. The
idea was to assist communal farmers who needed grain from the Grain
Marketing Board but could not afford it. The scheme gives them a loan of
seeds, which is meant to be repaid after their next harvest.
Chihuri urged to declare ‘illicit’ roadblock cash
By Alex Bell
01 October 2012
Zimbabwe’s police commissioner Augustine Chihuri is being urged to publicly
declare how much money is being collected by police officers at the many
roadblocks across the country.
The Coalition Against Corruption (CAC) last week handed over a letter and
petition to the police’s general headquarters in Harare, in an effort to
promote transparency and accountability in the police force. The CAC
Mutsvangwa said the public had the right to know where the funds collected
at roadblocks were being channelled to.
“As CAC, we are not saying Commissioner Chihuri is abusing the funds, but we
are just demanding to know where the money is going,” he said.
The number of roadblocks across the country has for months enraged
Zimbabweans, who are forced to pay on-the-spot fines for a range of
‘offences’. A source who recently visited Zimbabwe told SW Radio Africa that
the roadblock situation is “out of control.” The source counted 29 separate
roadblocks on a single journey from Harare to Bulawayo last month, adding
that the police “would even take your drinks if you didn’t have any money.”
Public affairs commentator Precious Shumba told SW Radio Africa that the
roadblocks are widely condemned as “a corrupt, illegal, unjustified burden
on the public.”
“People are being asked to part with their money at every single roadblock
for anything the police say they have done wrong. People feel like
criminals. They are inconvenienced all the time at these extortionate
roadblocks,” Shumba said.
He welcomed the CAC petition for raising awareness about the issue, but said
it was unlikely to make a real difference.
“I doubt the police will take it seriously, because the police justification
is that the roadblocks are for policing and they are maintaining law and
order,” Shumba said.
GMB Officials, Villagers Selling Food Aid in Zimbabwe
Some senior Grain Marketing Board (GMB) officials and villagers in Gwanda
Central are reportedly diverting drought relief aid and selling it for up to
$10 a bucket as the food situation deteriorates in Zimbabwe.
According to parliamentary agriculture committee member, Patrick Dube, the
diversion of drought relief aid has left thousands of people without food in
most parts of Matabeleleand South.
Dube said a 10 kilogram bucket of maize which fetches $5 in retail shops is
now being sold for $10 dollars in the black market.
He claimed that the maize is being diverted by some politicians linked to
President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party and several GMB officials who were
not available for comment.
“One of the local councilors is working hand in hand in these shady grain
deals with as aspiring senator linked to the former ruling party,” said
He said the government needs to intervene to stop the illegal maize deals.
The United Nations World Food Program said recently that it is closely
monitoring the crippling drought situation in the country and lobbying
stakeholders for the provision of food and other resources to the affected
Zimbabwe has pledged 35,000 tonnes of maize and the WFP is working with
other organizations to secure additional aid.
Close to 1.6 million people, 60 percent higher than the one million that
needed assistance during the last lean season, will need food aid by March
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom and Australia have provided $11.5 million to
help Zimbabwean smallholders farmers under the food and agricultural
organisation’s agricultural inputs program.