A 26-minute film by the Research Advocacy Unit entitled House of Justice claims that 71 percent of Zimbabwe’s farm workers have been evicted since the fast track land reform in 2000.
It also says that 97.5 percent of the victims of human rights violations in Zimbabwe have been farm workers.
Though land redistribution is supposed to benefit land-starved Zimbabweans, the film says less than one percent of the redistributed land was given to farm workers.
The film was funded by an American non-governmental organisation, Witness, and also examines violence on three farms in Chegutu where the white farmers who were evicted won their case in the Southern African Development Community Tribunal.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa withdrew Zimbabwe from the Tribunal and said the country would not be bound by the tribunal’s judgments.
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SUBJECT: ZIMBABWEAN FILM DOCUMENTS LAND, HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
¶1. (U) The Research Advocacy Unit (RAU), a local NGO dedicated to
documenting various human rights abuses and launching advocacy
campaigns, recently completed a film documenting human rights abuses
involved in the recent land grabs. Although the land issue has
largely revolved around the plight of white land owners, the film
includes extensive interviews with black, indigenous Zimbabwean farm
workers who have been beaten and tortured, and have seen colleagues
killed in the chaotic land redistribution. RAU showed the film to a
group of diplomats at the Dutch embassy on September 22 and
solicited ideas on distribution. Diplomats and RAU hope that the
film will be used as an advocacy tool in advance of a Southern
African Development Community (SADC) meeting of the ministerial
troika of the Organ on Politics, Defense, and Security in Maputo in
October; among other issues, the troika is expected to review
Zimbabwe’s decision to pull out of the SADC Tribunal. END SUMMARY.
Documentary Shows Suffering
Of Black Farm Workers
¶2. (U) On September 22, the Dutch ambassador hosted a screening for
ambassadors in Harare (including most SADC ambassadors) of the
locally produced documentary “House of Justice.” The 26-minute film
was produced by a local NGO, RAU, which received training in
filmmaking from Witness, an American NGO started by Peter Gabriel.
The documentary examines recent violence on three Chegutu farms
which were subjects of the SADC Tribunal ruling that the takeover of
77 white-owned commercial farms was unlawful. Despite the ruling,
the government has continued the violent land grabs. Minister of
Justice Patrick Chinamasa rejected the ruling of the Tribunal,
claiming it lacked jurisdiction, and recently declared Zimbabwe was
withdrawing from the Tribunal. The film also highlights the human
rights abuses suffered by black Zimbabwean farm workers since the
land invasions began in 2000. Startling statistics flash on the
screen during the film: 71 percent of Zimbabwe’s farm workers have
been evicted since 2000; 97.5 percent of victims of human rights
violations have been farm workers; less than one percent of land has
been redistributed to farm workers.
Labor Leader Pushing for Action
¶3. (U) RAU Director Tony Reeler told us that the Secretary General
for the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union (GAPWUZ),
Gertrude Hambira, is currently in South Africa attending the
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) National Congress.
She is there to advocate for greater COSATU action in support of
Zimbabwe’s farm workers who continue to suffer in the violent farm
invasions. Hambira hopes to show the film during the COSATU
meeting. She will visit other Southern African countries in coming
weeks to show the film and encourage regional labor movements to
push their governments to pressure Mugabe to respect the SADC
Tribunal and to ensure the restoration of human rights and rule of
law. RAU hopes labor movements in Zimbabwe and the region will
become a more effective voice on behalf of farm workers.
¶4. (U) RAU plans to officially launch the film in early October in
connection with a written report; RAU will use regional labor
movements to distribute and promote the issue, the film and the
Qmovements to distribute and promote the issue, the film and the
report. RAU also plans to take the film and report to the
Zimbabwean parliament. RAU recently produced a short film on
political violence against women which was viewed in parliament.
Although members differed in their opinions of the film, RAU did not
encounter any problems showing it. (NOTE: The film on political
violence against women in Zimbabwe is online at:
/HearUs-ViolenceAgainstWomeninZimbabwe2 END NOTE.)
¶5. (SBU) During a candid discussion after watching the film, the
Tanzanian ambassador suggested that it be shown to members of the
Zimbabwean government as well as to decision-makers in the three
countries currently in the SADC Organ on Politics, Defense, and
Security troika (Mozambique, Angola,and Swaziland), who will meet
in October in Maputo to discuss how SADC will respond to Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s recent declaration that Zimbabwe had
pulled out of the SADC Tribunal. (The MDC is asking the Troika to
consider ZANU-PF’s failure to fully implement the GPA as well.)
Others suggested that RAU post the film on the internet as soon as
possible to ensure broad distribution to the widest possible
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audience. Post will provide a link for the film to DOL and DOS as
soon as one is available.