Film on plight of black farm workers


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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.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 09HARARE760, ZIMBABWEAN FILM DOCUMENTS LAND, HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

09HARARE760

2009-09-23 08:28

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO2127

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0760/01 2660828

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 230828Z SEP 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4938

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000760

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E.LOKEN

STATE PASS TO DOL FOR S. HALEY

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ELAB PHUM EAID EAGR ASEC PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWEAN FILM DOCUMENTS LAND, HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

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:

http://hub.witness.org/en

/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

 

HARARE 00000760 002 OF 002

 

 

audience. Post will provide a link for the film to DOL and DOS as

soon as one is available.

 

PETTERSON

 

(4 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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