CHINHOYI About 55 former farm workers at Chinhoyi businessman-cum-politician Phillip Chiyangwas farm yesterday said the ex-Zanu PF MP owed them $800 each in unpaid wages and severance packages.
The former farm workers were thrown out of Chiyangwas Old Citrus Farm last Thursday after the politician described them as squatters at his property.
The workers were dumped at an open space near Chinhoyi showgrounds, with the majority of them claiming they had nowhere to go.
We have been rendered destitute, no food, no money, no roof over our heads, yet Chiyangwa owes each one of us here at least $800 as per calculations by our labour union, said Davison Phiri, a workers committee representative.
Ward 11 councillor Tendai Musonza, who has previously mediated in the wrangle said it was regrettable things had reached this unfortunate point where families had to be evicted.
The families accused Chiyangwa, his wife Soniso and farm manager Justin Nyamasve, of practising slavery over the years they had worked at the farm following their takeover from Phillip Nicole.
What we need is our money, so that we can start afresh, Phiri said.
The protracted stand-off between Chiyangwa and the labourers dates back to 2009 when the business tycoon gave the 55 former workers notice to vacate, although this was met with stiff resistance with the workers arguing he owed them severance packages.
But Chiyangwa insisted: They are not my workers, they are squatters.
When I took over the farm from Nicole they had served under him for so long and they didnt have anywhere else to go. Now they wake up and claim I employ them and I owe them money, he said.
If there is anyone who owes them money, it is Nicole, not me.
For the record some of these people now claiming occupation of the houses at my farm are actually offspring of Nicoles former workers.
Some of them had skipped the borders to neighbouring countries during the economic crisis only to return to the farm because this is the only home they know, Chiyangwa said.