Farm Workers Celebrate Christmas Without Salaries
Although Tengwe business centre situated about 50 kilometers east of Karoi used to be abuzz with farm
labourers from surrounding farms before the land reform in 2000, it looked deserted during this year Christmas celebrations.
Few farm workers came were ferried by tractors while other came by foot to spend the day at the popular business centre.
Rodgers Phiri aged 38 years who works at Madzimoyo farm 10 kilometers away says they have been battling to get salaries for the past six months.
“Our boss is no longer coming here from Harare saying he is waiting for bank loans for our salaries. We are going through Xmas without any money at all” says Phiri.
He adds that he came at Tengwe business centre to kill time with those that are being paid their salaries.
A frail looking 65 year old Tom Banda complains that most farm workers did not get bonuses let alone salaries.
”Christmas for us is meaningless as our employer can not afford to pay required salaries. Some claim the dry spell has affected their plans financially but it is now normal to go for months without salaries here”.
Farm workers’ required minimum wage is $44 per month.
The surrounding farms here have been hit hard by the current dry spell affecting mostly tobacco with some being forced to replant.
Former Zanu-PF MP for Kariba Isaac Mackenzi resettled at Mpofu river farm, 40 kilometers north of Karoi town, admits that most farmers are failing to pay salaries as they did not get loans from banks.
”It is becoming tough for us to get salaries for workers as we are going through hard times financially. I failed to raise salaries for 50 of my workers and they have to understand that there is cash crisis”.
Although some people afforded new furniture, clothes and other goodies during this festive season, it has remained a pipeline dream for farm workers here to get their wages and spoil their families at least once a year during this year’s Christmas.
Tough times lay ahead of the New Year celebrations for Phiri, Banda among others around Tengwe farms and those throughout Zimbabwe whose economic pillar is agro based.