A farm workers union has warned of anarchy in the agriculture sector if some black politicians who took over commercial farms continue to use their power to intimidate farm workers who they are paying slave wages.
General Secretary of the Progressive Agriculture and Allied Industries Workers Union of Zimbabwe, Raymond Sixpence, said a section of the new black farmers had become anti-people and were working in cahoots with the few remaining white farmers to oppress workers.
“We defeated white monopoly capitalists and now we have black monopoly capitalists. It is now black on black with these guys using their political muscle to pay workers a pittance,” Sixpence said.
Sixpence, whose union is aligned to the ruling Zanu PF party, said some black farmers were also using the system to protect white farmers because they had positions of power, with some acting as fronts.
He said the recently gazetted minimum wage for farm workers, set at a measly $75 per month, smacked of connivance by government officials, who were also farmers in their own right and did not want to pay workers a living wage.
Sixpence said his organisation was being side-lined from participating in the National Employment Council for the Agriculture Sector although they were duly registered with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
He said the union had a membership of more than 6,000 but was being undermined by employers who were diverting their union dues against the wishes of members, who he claimed were being threatened with dismissal by the farm managers.
“We cannot represent our members fully yet they are paying to the NEC and we are now contemplating withholding our members’ subscriptions from the NEC or forming our own NEC with friendly indigenous farmers,” he said.
“There will be anarchy in the agriculture sector; command agriculture will not work because there will be war as our members will refuse to have their money deducted. They have a constitutional right to strike.”
He said the NEC had promised to accept them during the next Annual General Meeting to be held this September.
Sixpence accused some farmers of deliberately directing their membership dues to a rival union, which he claimed was dining with the employers at the expense of the suffering farm workers.
“The composition of the current NEC is suspect and is full of sell-outs who are sacrificing workers. The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) OF 2014 is still in force without any amendments. It is old wine in a new bottle,” he said.
Sixpence said farm workers had been neglected for too long and were being denied services such as access to health and clean water.