SW Radio Africa (London)

4 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Hundreds Left Unemployed After Fresh Farm Seizures

Almost 900 farm workers have lost their jobs since January 1st as a result of a recent spate of farm invasions across Zimbabwe, which have seen more than 40 properties face threats.

Properties in Mashonaland West, Manicaland, Midlands and elsewhere have faced varying levels of threat and, according to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), eight properties have been seized and the commercial farmers forced to leave.

The seizures have allegedly been done in the name of 'land reform', the ZANU PF policy that has destroyed the agricultural sector since it was launched over a decade ago.

ZCTU secretary general Japhet Moyo said the latest land grabs had resulted in 890 farm workers losing their jobs, contributing to the 9,617 countrywide job losses recorded since January 1st.

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe (CFU) president Charles Taffs confirmed that about 40 properties have been under threat this year, but he explained most of the issues had been "stabilised."

"I say stabilized, but not resolved. The uncertainty surrounding the land issue, land rights and land access, remains. And what we're seeing in most cases is opportunism, with individuals trying to take advantage of this uncertainty. The overall perception is that farming in Zimbabwe is still a high risk practice," Taffs said.

He added: "We need to stabilize the land question once and for all. Let's get this thing settled and have a system where we can turn agriculture around, on the back of which we can turn the entire economy around."

He explained that the confusion about the government's land policy, as well as a lack of property rights, means even 'beneficiaries' of seized land do not have any confidence. Resettled farmers have never been granted the title deeds to the properties they received, and in some instance some resettled, small scale farmers, have faced threat of eviction.

"So how secure are they? They do not have title deed so they do not have confidence," Taffs said.

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