Threat to sugar estates

2,000 Workers to Lose Jobs as Govt Seizes Part of Private Sugar Plantation

VOA News

2 June 2016


MASVINGO —   At least 2,000 workers at the privately-owned Tongaat-Hulett’s Triangle and Hippo Valley plantations in Zimbabwe’s Masvingo province are set to lose their jobs as government is threatening to parcel out several hectares of land at the sugar cane entity.

Some of the workers claimed that the government has indicated that it would allocate 4,000 hectares of land at Triangle and Hippo Valley Estates in Chiredzi district to landless peasants and traditional leaders.

One of the employees, Elias Gwamure, said his future looks bleak as the sugar plantations are his only source of family income.

“We are extremely concerned about our future because the land that is being pegged is where we are working from and this means we are definitely set to lose our jobs. This also means doom to us as we will no longer be able to fend for our families,” said Gwamure.

Another worker, Emily Makamure, said her children will drop out of school if the government takes over the sugar estates.

Makamure said, “I have been working here for close to a decade and have been able to look after my family and send my kids to school, so this is certainly going to affect me as we have been hinted that 2,000 people from my department will be laid off and this to me means my kids will stop going to school.”

Temba Gumbo, who is also facing the same problem, questioned the government’s move saying it is ill-timed as millions of people in the country are currently jobless.

“The ruling party in its election manifesto in 2013 promised to create 2 million jobs but now they want to destroy 2,000 jobs. So, is that what they meant in creating jobs? We are now set to lose our jobs and the economic situation is not favourable to anyone. We are very angry with what they are doing,” said Gumbo.

Although efforts to get a comment from Lands Minister, Douglas Mombeshora, were fruitless today, last week he told local media that pegging of the land for redistribution was already underway.

He said some of the intended beneficiaries are already complaining that the stands being pegged are unequal.

The continued grabbing of land at the plantations over the years has been blamed for the drastic decline in sugar production in the country. This year the company recorded a profit of only one million dollars compared to US$35 million in 2015.

Zimbabwe embarked on a land reform program in 2000, which led to the displacement of thousands of workers. Critics have attributed the decline in agricultural production to the land reform program.