Evictions rob children of education

The recent eviction of farm workers fromOld Citrus Farm by a well-knownbusiness mogul, Phillip Chiyangwa, reveals how women and children have borne the brunt of the suffering caused by land reform.

Farm workers have taken considerable risks to remain in employment throughout the land distribution exercise that began in 2000. The majority of them were born and raised on the farms, and the women and children in these communities have been the hardest hit.

Sixty-year-old Daina Mutale is a mother of six and grandmother of 12, and she was born and bred on Old Citrus Farm.Mutale and 30 other women are now living in tents on a 10 000 square metre plot after Chiyangwa evicted them. The evictees were offered the plot by a private company working in collaboration with Caritas and Red Cross International, two humanitarian organisations that provided the displaced people with food and shelter.

“We are barred from harvesting our crops by unruly elements now staying on the farm with theblessings of Chiyangwa,” Mutale told The Zimbabwean. “We now rely on food handouts from donors and other well-wishers. We cannot go back to the farm because Chiyangwa’s men said they would beat us up.”

Most of their children have stopped going to school and are now casual labourers on other farms. Tendai Musonza, the Ward 11 Councillor under whose jurisdiction the evicted farm workers are now living, said the victims were exposed to hostile weather before they received the tents.

‘’The school books and uniforms that the children managed to escape with were destroyed by the heat and rain, and most of them lost their uniforms,’’ Musonza said.

A local Catholic priest who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “Such evictions pose critical questions for the government and theowner of the farm. These people were thrown out without food, sound shelter oroptions for their children’s education”.

In the course of the fast track land reform programme about 11million hectares were seized from 4000 commercial farmers.More than 100 000 farm workers have been evicted.

Post published in: News

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