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Report on housing and tenure security for farm workers in newly resettled areas

For the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Land and Agriculture

Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe

14-16 October 2005

SARPN acknowledges permission from FCTZ to post this document.
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Executive Summary

Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ) is a registered local non-governmental organization PVO number 3/99. FCTZ major objective is to improve the quality of life of vulnerable groups in former large-scale commercial farming areas and rural informal settlements. The organisation is operational in the four provinces of, Mashonaland East, West, Central and Manicaland.

FCTZ promotes the livelihoods of vulnerable people living in former large-scale commercial farming areas and rural informal settlements through facilitation of community development, communication, and advocacy and lobbying those who can facilitate change. To achieve this goal, FCTZ implements several programmes including: Research, Advocacy and Lobby; Sustainable Livelihoods; Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC); Health; HIV and AIDS; Basic Education; Gender and Microfinance.

Since its inception, FCTZ has seen Advocacy and Lobby as central in achieving its main objective of improving the welfare of vulnerable groups in former large-scale commercial farming communities. The objective of the FCTZ Advocacy and Lobby programme is to raise awareness on vulnerable groups in target areas in particular to sensitize policy makers, local authorities and other stakeholders who in turn influence favorable policies on vulnerable groups.

FCTZ has identified Parliamentary Committees as critical to the attainment of its objectives. The organisation has in the past worked closely with, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service Labour and Social Welfare and has engaged its members through farm tours, workshops and meetings. In October 2005, FCTZ engaged the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture on issues of access to housing and security of tenure for vulnerable groups in former large-scale commercial farming areas.

The central issue in Zimbabwe since independence has been the resolution of the land question. At independence the land question had three major components: unequal and inequitable land distribution: insecurity of tenure, and unsustainable and sub optimal land use. (Government of Zimbabwe 1998)

While the benefits of land reform in terms of a more equitable distribution of land and an easing on pressures on communal areas have been discussed at length, relatively little attention has been paid to the land needs of those who have been working and living on the commercial farms. Farm workers live with pronounced insecurity about their future. By reason of their origin and biography most have little access to extended family, "safety nets" and have no claim to land in the communal areas.1 They have been extremely dependent upon their employers to satisfy their basic needs, to an extent unlike any other group of employees in Zimbabwe.

The absence of tenure security meant that the right to residency on a farm was tied to the employment status of the individual. Loss of employment would automatically mean loss of right to reside on the farm.

FCTZ believes that as we now enter into the consolidation and productive phase of the land reform programme, it is imperative that we address the issue of tenure security for the farm worker community. It is against this background that FCTZ held a workshop to discuss the various policy options to address the issue of housing and security of tenure for farm worker communities in newly resettled areas between 14 and 156 0ctober 2005.

FCTZ, together with other stakeholders including farmer and farm worker organizations, relevant government departments, RDCs, members of the media and other NGOs made presentations to the Parliament Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture during the workshop. The workshop, which was held at Troutebeck Inn in Nyanga came up with a number of recommendations as a way forward on the issue of housing and tenure security for farm worker communities.

The workshop concluded that farm workers constituted communities whose livelihoods were dependent on the commercial farm owner prior to and after the Land Reform Programme. The farm worker communities were therefore considered the most vulnerable group residing in these areas. The workshop also noted the need to address the security of tenure of new farmers to create an enabling environment for employment creation.

The following is a summary of the recommendations made the by the workshop:

  • Government should provide security of tenure for farm workers through the establishment of rural service centers
  • Government should allocate land to those farm workers who want to farm
  • Government should speed up procedures for conferring security of tenure for new farmers
  • The right to residency on a farm or any form of housing should not be tied to the employment status of a farm worker
  • The government should consider using NSSA funds to launch a housing scheme for farm worker communities
  • RDCs should designate rural service centres which would provide residential accommodation for farm workers and other service providers in newly resettled areas
  • There is need to establish a quota system for the allocation of land to farm worker communities
  • Government should support new farmers to generate employment for the already experienced labour force
  • Each district in the country should come up with a skills register of farm workers to facilitate the employment of farm workers and link them to farmers
  • Under utilized land should be made available for farm worker resettlement
  • There is need to carry out educational meetings and workshops on birth registration procedures with the farm worker community and the Registrar General's Office to encourage registration of the communities.

  1. Research carried out by Famine Early Warning Systems, Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe and the Agriculture Labour Bureau in 1998 indicated that only 40% of permanent (male) farm workers maintain a rural home.

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