Farm workers angry with Mnangagwa over compensation

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FARM workers rendered jobless during the chaotic land reform programme after government forcibly grabbed farms from their employers, mainly white commercial farmers, have accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of ignoring them in the compensation exercise.

Government in July signed a Global Compensation Agreement with the white former farmers which will see Zimbabwe cough out more than US$3,5 billion to pay for the developments they made on the farms.

Government has also committed to compensate black farmers and those white farmers whose land was secured under the Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement.

But the former farm workers told NewsDay that they were upset that government had prioritised “pleasing the former farmers” while ignoring compensating them for loss of livelihood, as required by the law.

Progressive Agriculture and Allied Industries Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe leader Raymond Sixpence said they would soon approach Mnangagwa and possibly the High Court challenging the move to compensate the former commercial farmers first before the workers.

“We are going to approach the President, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Finance, the Minister of Agriculture and the Commercial Farmers Union because they know what is happening,” Sixpence said.

“Even if it means we have to go to the High Court to block it, we will, because what the government has done is against Statutory Instrument 6 of 2002.

“We wrote to Ncube and (the late Agriculture Minister Perrance) Shiri, but they ignored us. We wrote to them when this issue was raised initially. In terms of the law, no farm owner should be compensated before the farm workers are compensated.”

He added: “The farmers left in a huff without paying the workers and there are more than 100 000 of them. Government ignored us. It is a concern to us because no one is talking about them.

“The farm owners are only worried about production and the workers are getting peanuts, only $2 100 (less than US$20) and all they are worried about is giving billions to the white former commercial farmers.”

One of the workers, Mukodzo Mukito of Glensla Farm in Marondera, said they were yet to receive compensation after losing their jobs during the land reform programme and was hoping government would compensate them.

Tom Banda, of Torero Flowers owned by the Toure family, echoed similar sentiments, saying: “We were hoping for compensation, but were surprised to hear that we had been sidelined. We can only hope the government will address our issues.”

Source – newsday