Farm worker disputes

Farm workers are clashing with new farmers of grabbed properties amid reports of bad farm management, changes of employment, appalling remuneration and a bleak future.

Farm workers. File pic
Farm workers. File pic

Many farm workers witnessed how the black farm owners grabbed the land, and some were caught up in the often-violent evictions.

"We were better off under Mr Watson," said one farm worker, Nyasha Mutero.

According to the General Agriculture Plantation Workers Union, there are 350 000 black farm workers, many of whom thought they would be beneficiaries of land reform programmes.

The farm workers say they been paid erratically and are forced to work longer hours than they had previously been expected to work. Amid the friction is emerging a new class of land barons who, under pressure from restive workers have called back the previous owner and leased the land to him under a profit sharing arrangement. Mugabe has sternly warned against such a practice.

The war veterans occupying white-owned farms in Zimbabwe say farm workers are sabotaging their operations because of their attachment to the previous owners and their own ambitions to own land.

"It’s difficult to work with these people my brother," said Richard Gono, a successful flower farmer who grabbed his farm from a white-owner in 2003. "They feign illness, steal, sabotage the operation and simply refuse to cooperate. They would rather be under a white farmer. There is urgent need for a paradigm shift. The farm workers need to be told that this is irreversible. Baas is not coming back."

Sources in the Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union and General Agricultural Plantation Workers Union acknowledged, some off the record, the widespread friction between the new black owners and their inherited workers.

Post published in: News

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