Farm workers form newspaper reading cluster

Newspaper reading clusters are not a new idea in Zimbabwe.
CHEGUTU - Where there is a will there is a way. It started off last month near the small town of Chegutu when one news-starved farm worker decided to rally three friends to take turns to buy issues of The Zimbabwean which they could read together.

On their paltry wages of less than $50 per month, they obviously could not afford to buy such a luxury as a newspaper.

Thanks to M K, aged (35), there are now 15 farm workers are keeping up with events after joining the newspaper reading group. (Name and address supplied but withheld in the interests of their safety).

When I approached my three friends, they resisted at first, but when they saw how they could benefit, they joined and soon we were having more and more people asking to join. If the number keeps growing, we will soon start buying two newspapers so that we can all read in a short time.

On logistical issues, he said, Since the (Chegutu) town is some 30 kilometres away from the farm, we also take turns to go and buy the papers every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Each member now contributes a dollar a month and that is sufficient to get us all the papers, and we have chosen a man responsible for keeping the money.

When we get the paper we gather to read it if we are all available but if some are not, they are assured of getting the paper whenever we have the time to read it, he said.

Asked why they chose The Zimbabwean, MK said this is the only paper that tells the real story.

Newspaper reading clusters are not a new idea in Zimbabwes farming, rural and urban communities and they have been identified as a major source of information among impoverished communities.

In urban areas, for example in Highfield, there is a group of soccer supporters who gather every Sunday at the local Western Triangle bus terminus where they make contributions to buy the Sunday newspapers before they discuss and review local and international developments in the soccer fraternity .

It is also in these clusters that communities have been able to engage in meaningful debate around the social, economic and political developments of the country.

Of late, the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe, (GAPWUZ) together with Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition have run radio listening clusters as a way of encouraging debate among marginalised people who are often left out in many political processes such as referendums and the current constitution-making process.

We encourage farm workers to take such initiatives as it helps them to keep in touch with the events, because in many cases we have seen these people failing to get the valued information on social, political and economic issues, said a GAPWUZ official.

The organisation has plans to mobilise its members into reading groups and to provide newspapers and other education material.

We realise the importance of information to our members and that is why we would want to involve them in every possible way, said the official.

MK said the group has been able to keep up with the events in the constitution- making process even though the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee has not reached out to them adequately.

Despite the fact that COPAC has not reached out to us we have kept up and I urge my fellows in other farms to start the noble project, he said. – Staff reporter

Post published in: World News

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