• Indigenous peoples in Zimbabwe

    Indigenous peoples in Zimbabwe

    There are two peoples that self-identify as in indigenous in Zimbabwe, the Tshawa and the Doma. However, the Government of Zimbabwe does not recognise any specific groups as indigenous to the country.
  • Peoples

    There are approximately 2,600 Tshwa and 1,050 Doma in Zimbabwe, making up 0.03% of the country’s population.
  • Recognition

    The Government of Zimbabwe does not identify any specific group as indigenous, arguing that all Zimbabweans are indigenous peoples.
  • Challenges

    Though somewhat improved in recent years, realization of core human rights in Zimbabwe continues to be challenging.

Zimbabwe

Indigenous peoples in Zimbabwe

There are two peoples that self-identify as in indigenous in Zimbabwe, the Tshawa and the Doma. However, the Government of Zimbabwe does not recognise any specific groups as indigenous to the country.

Zimbabwe is party to the CERD, CRC, CEDAW, ICCPR and ICESCR. Reporting on these conventions is largely overdue but there have been efforts in 2017 by the government to meet some of the requirements that have been set. Zimbabwe also voted for the adoption of the UNDRIP but has not ratified ILO Convention 169. In recent years, Zimbabwe has also participated in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process of the UN Human Rights Council, the most recent meeting of which was held in November 2016.

Indigenous peoples in Zimbabwe

Two peoples self-identify as indigenous in Zimbabwe. Those are the Tshwa (Tjwa, Tsoa, Cuaa) San, found in western Zimbabwe, and the Doma (Vadema, Tebomvura) of Mbire District in north-central Zimbabwe. It is estimated a population of 2,800 Tshwa and 1,300 Doma.

Most of the Tshwa and Doma live below the poverty line. Both the Tshwa and Doma have histories of foraging and continue to rely to a limited extent on wild plant, animal and insect resources. The Tshwa and Doma households have diversified economies, often working for members of other groups in agriculture, pastoralism, tourism, and small-scale business enterprises.

The only San organization in Zimbabwe, the Tsoro-o-tso San Development Trust, (TSDT) was active in 2017, especially in disseminating information among Tshwa communities and promoting the Tjwao language.

Main challenges for Zimbabwe’s indigenous groups

The Doma and the Tshwa San face an ongoing discrimination, social insecurity, low employment levels, limited political participation, and lack of broad access to social services, land, development capital, and natural resources.

Relations between the Tshwa and their Bantu-speaking neighbours, the Kalanga, and Ndebele and government officials are complex. For instance, in 2017, Tshwa were often blamed for involvement in illegal wildlife-related activities even though there was no evidence to support this. The tensions between the Tshwa in Tsholotsho District and members of the staff of the Zimbabwe Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management (ZDNPWLM) (Zimparks) increased in 2017.

Doma rights to resources were restricted by the imposition of new conservation areas and safari hunting areas in the Zambezi Valley. Their livelihoods were also affected by the fact that they now have to pay license fees as high as Z$800 (US$800) for the right to hunt or fish.

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About IWGIA

IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

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