Former farm labourers who are victims of the chaotic land reform programme are failing to participate freely in the constitution-making process that is currently underway, a farm workers’ organisation has said.
The General Agriculture and Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Gapwuz), which is carrying out a nationwide constitution education campaign, said the situation is dire in Mashonaland provinces.
“There is rampant intimidation at farms from Zanu PF loyalists who want to foist their views on the people. We have travelled to various provinces in the country sensitising the farm labourers but we have realised that people are not able to speak for themselves because of intimidation and threats of expulsion,” said Gapwuz spokesperson Tapiwa Zivira.
Close to one million people were affected by the land reform programme and were left homeless after the government failed to give them land for resettlement.
“From our campaigns, we have discovered that our members want small pieces of land and we are therefore demanding that land be set aside for the farm labourers. We also want a Bill of Rights that encompasses labour rights,” said Zivira.
Most farm labourers in Zimbabwe are of foreign descent, mainly from Malawi and Mozambique.
Their children do not have birth certificates and are often exploited by new farmers who pay them poor wages.
“We want the farm labourers to be recognised as citizens of the country so that they will be able to participate in national events such as elections,” said Zivira.
Without national identity documents, farm labourers may not be able to participate in the forthcoming referendum on the new constitution.