Global Resources

Land Reform and Human Rights in Contemporary Zimbabwe: Balancing Individual and Social Justice through an Integrated Human Rights Framework

Author: B. Derman, A. Hellum
Publisher: Elsevier
Publication Date: Oct 2004
Land distribution and access to land are key issues in Zimbabwe. In recent years, nearly all of the country's commercial farm land has been re-designated, leaving most farm workers dislocated from their farm villages. The government of Zimbabwe argues that the land reform programme is needed to achieve historical and social justice. However, this article concludes that the government is engaged in serious human rights violations and is appropriating land to distribute to its followers for political not social justice ends. The rights of vulnerable groups such as farm workers, women and children are not being protected. For example, earlier reforms put in place to enhance women's tenure rights are not being implemented. Also, the possibilities for single, widowed and divorced women to use resettlement land productively are extremely limited as they often possess only meagre resources. Using a human rights perspective, this article calls for a concerted strategy to protect people's livelihoods through a wider protection of their property rights.