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Farm workers cry foul

BY MOSES MATENGA

FARM workers across the country are living in abject poverty because of meagre salaries with thousands of them also struggling to get identity documents, it has emerged.

The farm workers said they were not being taken seriously by the government and their employers despite the Zimbabwe economy being agrarian-based.

Progressive Agriculture and Allied Industries Workers Union of Zimbabwe general-secretary Raymond Sixpence said the situation in farms was dire with farm workers getting a paltry $3 900 (US$30), while thousands of them do not have identity documents.

“Farmers are getting $3 900 per month which is very low and we are requesting at least US$100, at least that is something we can work with,” Sixpence said.

He said the official number of farm workers had since risen to over 60 000 since the coming in of the administration led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2017.

“They were at least 30 000 farm workers before the new dispensation, but they have doubled to over 60 000 workers with a new drive in agriculture production,” he said.

“We have been advocating for the government and all stakeholders to assist the farm workers to get their identity documents since it is a basic human right.

“Without your identity document, you cannot fully function in society. You cannot open bank accounts or access even a SIM card to register for mobile money. That now becomes a challenge in terms of how to pay a farm worker under the circumstances.”

“In some cases, many workers are using one account to receive their salaries which inconveniences them after working for a whole month.”

“We are pleading with the government to assist farm workers to get their identity documents.”

On issues of child labour, Sixpence said officially, such cases were limited in Zimbabwe because of strict labour laws.

“We have a lot of improvement in terms of child labour in commercial farming due to the new requirements for someone to be employed, but still, the agriculture industry still remains the biggest industry which uses child labour because there is demand for cheap labour, which does not require any academic experience,” he said.

“The horticultural industry is on the rise in the country. I have seen a lot children picking berries, peas and other horticulture produce. However, some justify that many children living under poverty can manage to pay their fees through working, and hence they are actually grateful.”

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