Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

 You are in: Talking Point: Debates: African
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Monday, 20 August, 2001, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
White farmers: Too much media attention?
The battle for land in Zimbabwe has hit the headlines again in the past few days.

White farmers have been fleeing the northern town of Chinhoyi after violent attacks on their farms by supporters of the government's land redistribution policy.

For many months the fate of white farmers has featured heavily on the international news agenda.

Some believe it is a story that warrants a great deal of coverage while others think it is the subject of too much media focus.

Are white famers in Zimbabwe getting too much attention?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

I do not know why the western media affords so much sympathy to so racist a group of people as Zimbabwean white farmers. For 20 years they have frustrated and hindered land resettlement in every way possible and their best offer to millions of landless peasants is 900,000 hectares. This is about a thirteenth of what they own. They need to get serious or they will lose everything.
Kelvin Jones, USA

The Zimbabwe problem does not receive enough international attention. If there was oil in Zimbabwe, the USA would have sent in the armed forces a long time ago. It is time that justice was served and President Mugabe removed from power. He should be put on trial for all of his crimes
Martin Loubser, Canada

Mugabe's encouragement of this lawlessness has to be stopped as innocent people are being hurt

Jane Mylan, Australia
As an ex-Rhodesian,and having lived in Malawi and South Africa, on both sides of the racial coin, I believe that the problem in Zimbabwe is not getting anywhere near enough coverage. Without the farmers to produce the export crops and bring money into the country, the people will be in a worse situation than they are at the moment. The intimidation of farm workers is just as bad as the invasion of the farms themselves. Mugabe's encouragement of this lawlessness has to be stopped as innocent people are being hurt - black and white.
Jane Mylan, Australia

Where were the media and the courts when the white settlers violently dispossessed the now landless blacks in the 1890's?There is an established principle of English property law which says that you cannot own what was not yours in the first place. The land crisis in the year 2001 is the unresolved land crisis which motivated the 70's bush wars. The vanquished could not continue to be in an advantageous position any longer. The bell now tolls for them. History shows that all agrarian revolutions are chaotic and lawless but with hindsight this one will be viewed as fair and equitable although not as bloody as most.
Rodney Nichole, Australia

Having destroyed its own future Zimbabwe is focusing on the past, fighting over less and less as time goes by. The infrastructure is in a sad state of disrepair, there is a desperate food shortage looming and the local currency is worthless. Most skilled people have taken the gap and headed to greener pastures. The looting of farms in Doma, whilst devastating to those being targeted, is only a very small part of the picture that has been used by the Government to highlight emotive issues. In exposing the farm looting the international press is highlighting the thinly veiled truth behind the looting, a full out power struggle for votes or the declaration of a state of emergency.
Tim X. Zim, Zimbabwe

No the white farmers are not getting too much attention. This is not a quarrel between "white" and "black". This is the story of a dictator who is past his sell by date finding an easy and convenient way to cling on to power by blaming the wrong people for the grinding poverty which afflicts the majority of the people of Zimbabwe which he (Mugabe) is responsible for.
Njagi Gacimu, Kenya

There are more important issues in Africa than the fate of white settlers

George Dash, Canada
UNITA blows up a train in Angola killing at least 150 civilians. This is an atrocity of unbelievable proportions. Yet we are fed news clips ad nauseam about white farmers in Zimbabwe. Are we to deduce that white lives have more value than black ones? Or is this another manifestation of the Western 'kith and kin' syndrome? Spare us this overkill. There are more important issues in Africa than the fate of white settlers.
George Dash, Canada

The UK and other Western countries should understand that 'Western' type democracy is not the answer to the world's problems. The history of the exploitation of Africa, Asia and South America has to be addressed to the benefit of the indigenous populations. Those who benefited from pure racial and educational exploitation in the past should not be treated as the victims. After all past wrongs cannot be excused by the passage of time.
Andrew, UK

The real problem is that the plight of black Zimbabweans under Mugabe's reign of terror is not receiving enough media attention. They are being beaten, tortured, abducted and in some cases murdered on a regular basis by Mugabe's thugs, but very little of this is reported by the foreign press. One only has to read the reports tabulated by such organisations as Amnesty International to realise the number of horrors that have gone largely unnoticed by the outside world.
Jill Thornhill, Zimbabwe

The majority of the black farm workers know that if the white farmers leave there will be no food

Sue Bezuidenhout, Zimbabwe
I feel that your journalists have not been told the true story about the Chinoya farmers, They went to the aid of the one farmer who was being intimidated and if fights broke out it was from both sides not just the white farmers. If the police won't help them, then who is the racist? The majority of the black farm workers know that if the white farmers leave there will be no food. The only reason they can't stand up for themselves is because of the intimidation. I just wish the truth could be told for a change. Why is Mugabe and Zimbabwe a member of the Commonwealth if he blames the UK for all Zim's problems.
Sue Bezuidenhout, Zimbabwe

Look at international condemnation when Albanians removed Serb families from Kosovo. Imagine the outrage if Asian British people were forcibly removed from the shops and businesses they built up a generation ago. Yet even now, the international community and the US talk about 'legalised' land reform. These farmers possess unique skills which Zimbabwe as a whole will lose should they vanish. (Try commercial farming in Africa and see why).
Paul Molinaro, Kenya

With a friend from Zimbabwe at University who is staying in Britain all summer for fear of returning home, let me reassure people that the disaster in Zimbabwe is very real and should not be pushed under the carpet. Political pressure on the nation needs to be stepped up and the cricket tour should certainly not take place. Oppression, racism and violence against any people, even whites by blacks, should not be ignored and we as a nation must do all we can to stop it.
Dave M, UK

We should view the white farmers as Zimbabweans

Geoff Oliver, UK
The white farmers in Zimbabwe warrant more media attention as they need the protection that media exposure can provide. The supposed forces of law and order in Zimbabwe have shown themselves to be simply another political tool for the use of ZANU-PF and Mugabe. But that is not all - we should view the white farmers as Zimbabweans rather than "white colonials" for we are in danger of accepting the treatment which is being handed out to these people by Mugabe as being just and deserving.
Geoff Oliver, UK

Should injustices be swept under the carpet because the rest of the world is too comfortable to care? Where is the justice in Zimbabwe and who cares about it, until it comes to your own doorstep??
Ann Godwin, ex Zimbabwe

NO - the Europeans and the farmers in general are not getting enough media attention. The situation there is very tense and volatile not to mention unsafe for any white person. As a person who was born and bred in Africa with all of my family still living in Zimbabwe, I am seriously worried about the situation and would prefer a little more media coverage.
Joan Hamilton, New Zealand

If murders and harassment of farmers had reached the same level in the UK or USA it would hit the headlines and no law enforcement agency would been allowed to rest until it stopped. After 14 years in Rhodesia and a final three in Malawi I could see what a black dictator could do to any opposition, black or white. I got smart and got out.
Harry Rose, USA

I think this is true. There is just too much on the ground which the press is not covering. Opposition MPs kidnapped and beaten. Teachers and Nurses 'fired' by war vets for supporting opposition. Laws openly flouted by ruling party supporters. The 'press ' gives the impression that the Zimbabwean situation is a 'black Vs white' when it is in fact a battle of ZANU-PF against the MDC. Why, for an example, are farms owned by 'white ZANU-PF supporters/sympathisers' not targeted in the 'land retribution'?
Bhekizwe Zulu, Zimbabwe

I think the black citizens of Zimbabwe are getting far too littleand deserve much more attention

Joe Mahony, Zimbabwe
I don't think the white farmers are getting too much attention. However, I think the black citizens of Zimbabwe are getting far too littleand deserve much more attention than the white farmers because I believe they are suffering considerably more than the whites. But unfortunately the Western world is only interested in crimes against whites and Mugabe knows that.
Joe Mahony, Zimbabwe

No, they are caught in the middle of a vicious political campaign orchestrated to remove any form of opposition to a morally corrupt government by any means and to ensure the continued oppression of the Zimbabwean peoples rights to a fair, just and democratic life.
Brian Murphy Zimbabwe

There will be a lot more hungry and unemployed blacks when all the white farmers are gone

Phil Wilkinson, Australia
I think that any situation that involves human rights abuses to humans of any colour or nationality should receive as much coverage as necessary. In this instance I think it is wrong to assume that this involves only white farmers, because it does not. There will be a lot more hungry and unemployed blacks when all the white farmers are gone and you can't tell me Mugabe is not aware of this, which clearly indicates that his only intention is to survive the 2002 election at any cost.
Phil Wilkinson, Australia

When an injustice is being condoned by a government, is there ever enough attention?
Frank Cobain, South Africa

Yes, they are. I wish the Afro-American farmers in US get as much attention as the white "farmer" in Africa. Can you imagine that for a moment?
Dina Weber, Switzerland

Yes and the media coverage of the farmers is amassing. The problem is the media are not telling the world how the problem started. Another problem about the media is that they don't report how farmers treat blacks. I am a black young South African and the least said about the farmers treatment of blacks the better.
Mashudu, South Africa

The media is making a fuss out of an issue that is not out of control

Lilian Kimeto, Kenya
The media is making a fuss out of an issue that is not out of control. There are other crucial matters that deserve more media attention that the land crisis does. The white farmers are also not holy saints, which is the picture that the press paint.
Lilian Kimeto, Kenya

I think this story gets too much focus because what the media has on his hand is a skewed story as well as a nerve touching subject. As history tells us, the 1980 liberation of Zimbabwe from colonisation was on the very subject of land which was supposed to be distributed for native Zimbabweans. I guess they were short of doing the job then. As a result the recent issue come to surface which is unfortunate because in the eyes of people (white or black) fairness would of prevail if the media had painted the right picture.
Gashaw Bekele, USA

The white farmers in Zimbabwe are not getting too much attention, rather it is Zimbabwe that is attracting attention for the wrong reasons. Africa cannot be in peace if Zimbabwe is catching fire. Although there is need for land reallocation in that country, the manner in which it is being done is not acceptable. President Mugabe is encouraging lawlessness for his own political gains. Two wrongs cannot make a right, and as such, Zimbabwe cannot repeat the same mistakes of the colonialist. Both sides must be prepared to give and take in their negotiations.
Pierre Mendy, The Gambia

See also:

13 Aug 01 | Africa
No end to Zimbabwe land conflict
02 Aug 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe targets more white farms
10 Feb 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Zimbabwe's descent into violence
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more African stories