HomeLocal NewsWorkers toil for nothing at Chapfika farm

Workers toil for nothing at Chapfika farm

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AS the world commemorates International Workers’ Day today, there is virtually nothing to celebrate for hundreds of workers at Zanu PF official David Chapfika’s Hurudza Farm in Mashonaland East where farm labourers have allegedly gone for nearly a year without pay.

Report by Tapiwa Zivira, Online Reporter.

Theirs resembles the proverbial life of abject poverty amidst plenty riches.

The workers told NewsDay yesterday their employer, owed them nearly a year’s wages.

They said they last received monthly wages of $54 in September last year while some had received only about $10 allowances early this year.

“I last got my wages in September last year and we continued to work, but we finally gave up after he (Chapfika) continued to remain mum about the issue, so we are now surviving on temporary jobs at other farms,” said an elderly woman who claims she has worked at the farm for over 33 years.

“Our life is likely to turn for the worse in the next few months because the temporary work at neighbouring farms is seasonal and after the harvest period, we will have no other source of income,” she said.

Although Chapfika could not be reached for comment, his accountant Denver Dube denied the allegations, saying the only delays in payment were for “a month or so” due to liquidity problems being experienced in the country.

“Those who complain just want to tarnish our good name and there are some who do not appreciate the good work that we do.”

Dube accused residents of the compound of taking advantage of the free accommodation at the farm by commuting to other workplaces in Harare.

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“Many people are coming from Harare to live here to escape the high electricity and water bills: They commute every day to their workplaces, so it is those people who accuse us of such things,” said Dube.

The farm, located some 10 kilometres outside Harare along Shamva Road, resembles a classic scene of poverty amidst plenty as the workers’ compound is adjacent to the flourishing maize crop which they have reportedly toiled for without payment.

This is not the first time that Chapfika has been embroiled in a wage dispute with workers.

In 2004, Hurudza Farm workers staged a demonstration demanding better wages and working conditions after the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers’ Union, (Gapwuz) had complained to the then Labour minister Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana that several farmers, mostly top government officials and ministers were underpaying their workers and grossly violating their rights.

Last year Gapwuz claimed that more than half of the newly-resettled farmers were failing to pay wages, which were then set at a paltry $59 monthly by the National Employment Council for Agriculture.

The wages have since been reviewed to $65 per month, and Gapwuz still insists most farmers are choosing not to pay the stipulated amount, paying, at times, $30 per month.

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