The Situation of Commercial Farm Workers after Land Reform in Zimbabwe

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7. Towards the future

The report concludes with an examination of the emerging relationship between the new farmers, both small and large, and farm workers. While the former have been, by and large, beneficiaries of land reform, the latter have not, despite appeals for land through their union, the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers’ Union (GAPWUZ). A somewhat uneasy relationship exists between the beneficiaries and the farm workers. There have been conflicts over continued access to farm housing for farm workers, and over resources such as land, water and food. However, there are also instances of peaceful co-existence on some farms.

Although there has been a substantial decline in union membership, owing to job losses, about 75 per cent of the union members interviewed still belonged to GAPWUZ. However, the newly-created and state-sponsored Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) also appears to have members, at least in a few provinces such as Masvingo. The challenges that GAPWUZ faces are new and manifold. It will need to re-assess its mission, focus and strategies, now that the farm worker community is substantially reduced in size.

In assessing the immediate and medium-term needs of farm workers, the report draws on priorities suggested by those interviewed for the survey. Not surprisingly, they identified the more immediate needs of farm workers as food and land. When the field research was conducted, in October and November 2002, food scarcity was a major problem and a livelihood crisis was mounting. This explains the priority attached to the resources of food and land. Other priority needs were income generating projects (requested in particular by women respondents), crop inputs, social infrastructure and services.

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