Last Updated: Friday, 29 August 2014, 08:17 GMT

State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2012 - Zimbabwe

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 28 June 2012
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2012 - Zimbabwe, 28 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fedb3e8c.html [accessed 29 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Unable to challenge the seizure of their land in Zimbabwe, white farmers continued to seek justice in neighbouring South Africa. In 2010, a court ruling in South Africa, implementing a decision by the Southern African Development Community tribunal, allowed the sale of Zimbabwean government property in Cape Town to provide compensation to farmers. In 2011, the courts overturned an application by the Zimbabwean government to prevent its assets from being sold on the grounds of diplomatic immunity. But despite the ruling in favour of the farmers, the auction of the property has yet to be carried out.

In 2000, land reforms in Zimbabwe began with the forceful reacquisition of property from Zimbabwe's 4,000 white farmers. The land was redistributed to a million black Zimbabweans, motivated by the legacy of forced evictions under colonial rule in favour of white settlers. Government supporters argued that these reforms were integral to redressing colonial inequalities, but they have been largely condemned by the wider international community for their often violent nature. Furthermore, the exodus of white farmers from Zimbabwe affected the economic stability of the country, throwing the agricultural sector into turmoil.

Although the land reforms may have contributed to improving food security for at least some poor farmers, critics have pointed out that the reforms were not as inclusive as they claimed to be. In 2011, the Zimbabwe Women's Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN) asserted that land reform has done little to redress the gender imbalance in land ownership. Women continue to face discrimination under customary land ownership laws, and national legislation has inadequately addressed this inequality. Furthermore, land distribution programmes have reportedly discriminated against Ndebele, Zimbabwe's largest minority group.

In 2011, the Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF), a nationalist Ndebele party, openly campaigned for the establishment of an independent Republic of Mthwakazi (RoM) in Matabeleland for the Ndebele people. The call was met with much contention and resulted in the arrest of three MLF leaders in early March. The men were charged with treason for reportedly handing out pamphlets that called for members of the national army to defect and support the formation of the RoM. While the accused were initially refused bail, they were eventually released. The original court date was set in November; the trial finally commenced in March 2012 but was subsequently adjourned.

MLF's desire for an independent state stems from wanting to redress the perceived socio-economic discrimination towards Ndebele by the Shona majority. Party leader Paul Siwela maintains that their agenda is not tribalist. He has pointed out that Shona and other non-Ndebele people settled in the region will be allowed to stay in RoM if they choose to. Siwela also assured the public, in a radio interview upon his release, that the MLF's activities would continue to be peaceful unless the state initiated aggression. But concerns about violent outbreaks remain.

Anglicans in Zimbabwe continue to face harassment from the state-supported breakaway faction led by self-appointed bishop Nolbert Kunonga, and are unable to gather and worship freely. In June 2011, Anglicans were denied access to the official shrine of African martyr, Bernard Mizeki, for the second year running. In September, leader of the mainstream Anglicans, Bishop Chad Gandiya, reported that the seizure of church property with the cooperation of the police force was intensifying; even an orphanage, home to more than 100 children was targeted for eviction. In October, the Archbishop of Canterbury visited Zimbabwe and met with President Mugabe, who promised to speak to Kunonga. Shortly after the Archbishop's visit, a High Court judge ruled that staff members of the Daramombe Mission School would be allowed to return to their posts immediately, after being served eviction notices the previous month. Whether international scrutiny will have any lasting impact remains to be seen.

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