HomeStandard StyleFarm evictions hurt women, children

Farm evictions hurt women, children

The land reform programme which was meant to benefit landless Zimbabweans, most of whom were forced out of prime lands to arid areas during the colonial era, has not those in desperate need of land.

Gender Lens with Moses Mugugunyeki

Some of people, who invaded land since the 2 000 invasions are now homeless after being kicked out of farms they had taken by powerful politicians, who are now multi farm owners.

The current wave of evictions has affected women and children most.

Susan Dzivare and her late husband, James abandoned their former home in Gokwe South 11 years ago and were among a group of 75 families, who invaded Chemagora Farm 27 in the same province.

But only last year, they were forced out of the farm and stayed in the open for close to a month to pave way for A2 farmers.
Although the evictees were later granted a stay of execution to return to the farm until the matter was finalised, Susan threw in the towel.

She opted to return to her original home.

“Last year, we were evicted from the farm and we had to stay out in the open. This happened when we were preparing for the planting season,” she said. “I could not endure staying in the open with my children hence my decision to return to our original home”.

Susan said their reception when they returned to their original home was not a bed of roses.

“Initially fellow villagers were reluctant to accommodate us since we had sold our original home. However, I managed to get a small piece of land where I built a small hut,” she said.

She lost some of her property during the movements.

Her predicament is a mirror of problems faced by hundreds of women and children, who are being evicted from different farms across the country.

The country has experienced a new wave of farm evictions since last year’s harmonised elections, which were won by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF.

Although evictees claim they were resettled at the farms under the land reform programme, government contends that the farms were meant for A1 and A2 farmers.

Recently, over 50 families were evicted from Spelenken Farm in Mazowe and are settled at Chief Rusambo’s homestead in Rushinga.
These families said the police who evicted them did not allow them to harvest their crops.

The plight of women and children at this “transit camp” makes sad reading and has turned out to be a burden to the traditional leader.

“There is no food and accommodation. People are sleeping in the open because the houses cannot accommodate everyone,” Chief Rusambo, born Gladmore Kangora said in an interview with The Standard last week.

Shortcomings of land reform exposed

The fresh farm evictions have displaced many families with women and children feeling the brunt most.

Women have to shoulder all the daily responsibilities for ensuring their own survival and that of their families, which many do by drawing on their resourcefulness and courage.

Displaced women often have to travel long distances to find water, food, firewood, medicines and other essentials. In so doing, they put themselves at great risk of danger especially sexual violence.
The burden of family responsibility, coupled with the anguish of sudden loss of a home as well as some properties, also takes a huge toll on the women’s health.

More so lack of resources may lead to situations where, by virtue of their sex, women are demoted to last place in terms of access to food or water, meaning, they eat less or last.

There is also danger of women resorting to exchanging sexual favours for food or other essentials.

Lack of safety and privacy in “transit camps” may expose women to health problems and increase women’s risk of sexual violence.
On the other hand, displaced children face numerous risks, these include, sexual violence and discrimination within the transit camps.

Most of the time, displaced children find themselves separated from their close relatives and are deprived of the care and protection of their family. Moreover, these children are generally sapped by the long distances that they are forced to travel either to schools, shops or water points.

Also the trauma caused by being evicted, homelessness and travelling is difficult to overcome and affect children psychologically.

Possibilities of an increase in malnutrition-related diseases for displaced families are very high as they are bound to have little to choose from when it comes to nutritious food.

The recent farm evictions are an example of the shortcomings of the government’s land redistribution programme, which instead of reversing the colonial land imbalances have left men, women and children in a quandary.

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