HARARE – Desperate Zimbabwean migrants working on South African farms are faced with the dilemma of standing for their rights or risk losing their jobs, reports have suggested.
Many Zimbabweans living and working in South Africa either sold all their belongings or abandoned their life in Zimbabwe in search of greener pastures, especially during the period between 2005 and 2008 when economic hardships took toll at home.
At the same time, life in the neighbouring South Africa has been difficult for Zimbabwean refugees as they experienced xenophobia, deportation, and unemployment.
This resulted in most opting to work as seasonal workers on farms, mines, part time jobs while other rowdy characters engaged in criminal activists.
The recent farm strikes, soon after the infamous Marikana mine strike, have exposed the low wages earned by farm “helpers” as farmers have called them.
Though the South African government is pleading with the workers to postpone the strike to give them time to review minimum wages, the strikers have refused to back down.
According to reports, most farm workers in De Doorns (a settlement in the Western Cape) are seasonal, that is, they work 5 to 6 months at 1 600 South African rands per month.
The social network is now abuzz with people raising concern at the abuse of Zimbabwean workers.
“I am worried about farm owners causing great tensions by using Zimbabwean workers when strike tensions are high please be careful,” reads one tweet.
Another reads: “Some farmers (don’t know how many) do help their workers as work is seasonal and they will be destitute without extra income.”
“I am shocked that farm owners claim they can manage with half the workers they employ. Just employing workers to help them?” the discussion went on.
Social analysts have said some Zimbabweans are destitute in neighbouring countries as they are embarrassed to return home as failures.
Most pretend to their family and friends that they are living the good life yet they depend on these seasonal jobs and piece jobs. – Bridget Mananavire