Accessibility links

Zimbabwe: 750,000 Farmers Destitute - 2002-09-21

The Zimbabwe pressure group, Justice for Agriculture, estimates that about 750,000 people who lived and worked on Zimbabwe's formerly white-owned farms are now destitute. The end of commercial agriculture has produced a massive humanitarian crisis.

Justice for Agriculture admits it is hard to arrive at solid statistics, but with only about 400 white farmers remaining on their land, it means that more than 4,000 other white-run farms are now closed down and their work forces dispersed.

Before President Robert Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms two and a half years ago, about two million farm workers and their families were supported.

Almost all of them lost their jobs and their homes as farm invasions and work stoppages were ordered by the ruling Zanu PF Party. Many primary schools in the commercial farming areas, supported by farmers, have closed down.

Most of the farmers forced to abandon their properties without compensation fully paid off their workforce. However, two non-governmental organizations have estimated that most benefits paid to the workers are now running out. The General and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe says few of the dispossessed farm workers are likely to ever work again. Unemployment in Zimbabwe as a whole currently runs at more than 70 percent. Inflation now stands at 135 percent.

Almost all farm workers on the confiscated white-owned farms were forced to leave. Statistics released by the government show that only about 10 percent of former farm workers are beneficiaries of the land reform program.