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South African Labor Minister to Discuss Displaced Zimbabweans With Harare Counterpart

  • Jonga Kandemiiri

Labor Minister Membathisi Mdladlana said it is time for Zimbabwe's unity government to focus on the needs of its citizens instead of bickering over appointments and other issues troubling power-sharing

South Africa’s minister of labor said he will meet with his Zimbabwean counterpart to resolve the plight of hundreds of Zimbabweans still living in the open in the Western Cape town of De Doorns following attacks on them and their homes amid a dispute over local farm jobs late last year.

Announcing his intention Wednesday to take up the crisis with Harare, Labor Minister Membathisi Mdladlana said it is time for Zimbabwe's unity government to focus on the needs of its citizens instead of bickering over appointments and other issues that have troubled the power-sharing arrangement.

VOA Studio 7 correspondent Benedict Nhlapho reported from Johannesburg that hundreds of Zimbabweans are still living in tents on a sports field in De Doorns, near Cape Town, two months after being displaced.

Elsewhere, the South African government has lodged a formal complaint with Harare about seizures of farms owned by its nationals. Radio Voice of the People reported that South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane said Pretoria had taken Harare to task for violating the bilateral investment protection agreement signed in November.

The South African move was endorsed by the Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe, which said the unity government in power since February 2009 has not been able to stop farm invasions despite the agreement with Pretoria. Some 150 white-owned farms out of the 300 remaining from more than 4,000 before land reform began in 2000 are said to be under threat from invaders.

General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe Secretary Gertrude Hambira told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that her organization is concerned with the plight of farm workers driven off formerly white-owned farms, as well as the national food security situation.

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said this week that the 2010 maize harvest beginning around March could be disappointing due to poor rainfall and a continuing lack of agricultural inputs, particularly fertilizer.

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