PUPILS at Kuwadzana High School in Banket, Mashonaland West, are being forced to provide supplementary labour to newly resettled farmers in the area, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.
Sources said since the beginning of the current school term in January, pupils are allegedly forced to work at North Banket Farm owned by Crispen Saidi and another farm reportedly owned by Zimbabwe Industry Tobacco Auction Centre (Zitac) chairman Wilson Nyabonda.
Saidi is Zanu PF councillor for Ward 22 in Zvimba.
“The school claims it is raising money to develop sport. Those who do not go to work in the fields are forced to pay $20 000 a term,” a source said.
Pupils who attend lessons in the afternoon work on the farms in the morning while those who attend morning lessons work in the afternoon.
Child labour is prohibited by law in Zimbabwe though it is rampant on farms. Parents who spoke to the Independent this week said they did not know how much money the school had raised through the illegal use of their children.
An official at the school confirmed that the pupils were working on the farms.
“The pupils are working on the farms and we are targeting to raise $2 million this term. Right now they are working on two farms,” the official said.
Newly resettled farmers have been complaining about shortages of labourers on the farms.
They say they do not have resources to employ workers on a full-time basis.
Before the inception of the farm invasions and fast-track land reform programme in 2000, white commercial farmers used to employ over 350 000 workers
Education minister Aeneas Chigwedere said he was not in a position to immediately respond to the questions raised by the Independent.
“We will get in touch with our director in the region who will investigate and give us the necessary feedback,” he said.