23 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Evicted Farm Workers Living By Roadside Without Blankets

The families of nearly two dozen farm workers who were evicted from Mara Farm in Goromonzi South last week are reported to be desperate and living by the roadside without adequate shelter.

Armed riot police patrolling the farm are also said to be blocking the families from collecting their belongings, including blankets and clothing that was left during the forced eviction.

According to the MDC-T legislator for Goromonzi South, Greenbate Dongo, the new farm owner claims he does not know the families. But Edward Dube, who took over in 2005 under the land reform programme, is being accused of refusing to pay the farm workers for long periods.

MP Dongo told SW Radio Africa that he has visited the farm and seen how desperate the families are. With the area flooded by heavy rains that hit much of Zimbabwe recently, plastic shacks that have been erected by the road near a neighboring farm cannot provide enough shelter.

The neighbor, known as Mashingaidze, has been providing water and other basics that he can spare. The MP appealed to for well wishers who can donate blankets, food, water, clothing and any other items that would make life more pleasant.

The families can be found by the road near a place called Rock Heaven, close to the Epworth side of Mara Farm. Young children and a disabled elderly man with one leg are among the evicted.

The farm workers and their families were evicted Monday last week after Dube was granted an eviction order by the courts. The court victory was based on his claim that strangers who do not work for him were living on his property.

But MP Dongo said some of the farm workers had been at Mara Farm since 1985. They told him that Dube pursued the eviction after they started demanding that he pay them what was owed, so they could send their children to school.

Unfortunately many farm workers and their families have experienced similar circumstances over the years, as commercial farms were taken over by government and military chefs without any knowledge of farming. This has caused massive unemployment and starvation.

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