The Situation of Commercial Farm Workers after Land Reform in Zimbabwe

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1.3 The structure of the report

This report has four chapters, in addition to this introductory chapter, which outlines the scope of the report and gives some historical background. The second chapter provides an overview of the scope and process of land reform on the national level. This sets out the broad context in which the reform was implemented, and the impact on farm workers, commercial farmers and the wider economy. It assesses the role of political, electoral and legal factors in shaping the direction of reform. The chapter identifies several distinct phases of reform: a phase of ‘spontaneous occupations’ preceded the ‘land invasions’, which were in turn followed by the ‘fast-track’ programme itself. The overview concludes by assessing the last phase of reform in 2002, including the controversy surrounding ownership of A2 model farms that led to calls for a comprehensive audit of the programme.

Chapter 3 considers the impact of the land reform on the employment conditions and livelihoods of farm workers. Drawing extensively on field data from the provinces, it assesses how the decline in numbers of operating commercial farms, especially in 2001-2002, led to a large drop in employment. (An estimated 50 per cent of farm workers had lost jobs by the beginning of 2002, and 65 per cent by February 2003.) This had a direct effect on their livelihoods because of the loss of regular incomes. The chapter also considers the effects of the acquisition of farms on social infrastructure and services such as schools and health centres that had been set up on the farms. Some closed down, causing great hardship to farm worker communities. The chapter goes on to examine the extent to which farm workers have had access to severance packages under Statutory Instrument 6.

Food security and the coping strategies of farm workers are addressed in Chapter 4. Food shortage appeared to be intensifying in most rural and farming areas in all the provinces covered. Farm workers still in employment, as well as those who had lost their jobs, had difficulty in obtaining regular supplies of food. But the new settlers had the same problem. The chapter discusses the situation of the more vulnerable groups: migrant workers, women, elderly and orphans. It describes how HIV-AIDS has become a major epidemic in farm worker communities, which lack resources and local care institutions to look after those who are ill. With the growing stress on the extended family network, these communities have less and less capacity to look after AIDS orphans. The chapter also provides an account of coping strategies that farm workers have adopted to help them survive in an economically stressful environment.

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