Wednesday, October 04, 2006

HIV farmworkers forgotten

HARARE, 3 October (IRIN) - Little is being done to provide treatment and care for Zimbabwean farmworkers living with HIV/AIDS since the government launched its controversial fast-track land redistribution programme in 2000.Historically neglected, the chaotic reform programme and a series of bad droughts has deepened the vulnerability of the remaining farm labourers working the land.

On Bryne Farm, about 55km west of the capital, Harare, Lloyd Munapo*, 39, was diagnosed as HIV positive in 2001. He can no longer work and relies on his wife, Anna*, to get by. She is also HIV-positive, but can still join other labourers every morning in the fields."If she stays behind taking care of me here, we will both die of hunger.

The doctor told me to eat healthy foods, so we have to work for it at all costs," said Munapo.Due to the high death rates on farms, owners now give workers as little time as possible to bury loved ones or tend to the sick, claimed acting president of the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union (ZFU), Jabulani Gwaringa."It's now very common on most farms. If you give them [farmworkers] the whole day, production will suffer. It's now only a handful of workers who attend funerals these days, the rest will be working," said Gwaringa, who owns a farm in Mashonaland East Province.

The 1,200ha Bryne Farm, which produces maize, tobacco and cattle, was invaded by former Masvingo provincial governor Josaya Hungwe in 2001, who dislodged the previous owner, David Dobson. About 100 workers still live on the farm....

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