Taking on leadership roles at Zimbabwean farms

August 26, 2022

A core aspect of our She Leads project is promoting the full and effective participation and leadership of women and girls in political and societal decision-making. One such leader is Dorothy Inusa – a worker at Selby Enterprises African Preserves farm in the Mazowe area, Zimbabwe.

Dorothy holds multiple leadership positions at the fruit and vegetable farm. Hygiene supervisor, first aider, kindergarten teacher and women’s branch chairperson are all roles she has taken on as she passionately represents her fellow workers at the farm.

A partnership pushing for better conditions

Dorothy is a member of the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ). The union advocates for the betterment of living and working conditions for farm workers and receives support from She Leads.

GAPWUZ promotes and protects the rights of farm workers in Zimbabwe, raising their situation at national and international levels. A central part of their work is to educate workers about their rights and offer legal assistance.

At first, Dorothy resisted joining the union. “This was until I learned about the support GAPWUZ offers in any number of work-related situations and figured it would be good to sign up,” she says.

Collaborating for better conditions

Selby farm, where Dorothy works, is part of a group 12 farms in the Mazowe region. GAPWUZ members meet once a month to discuss key issues affecting their living and working conditions.

“We talk and share new ideas. We deal with issues that are important to us, problems we’re facing, and share ideas on how we can tackle them,” Dorothy explains.

“GAPWUZ negotiators then help us to break down the issues further and understand how we can present them to management.”

The employees from the 12 farms take a collaborative and unified approach to dealing with and settling the matters they bring up.

Dealing with the challenges

The process of claiming rights that have been denied is not always smooth. Dorothy and her fellow farm workers are in constant collision, however positive, with the human resources personnel at the different farms.

“Sometimes in the past, we would lie and call in sick in order to get some time off from work. But thanks to our training from GAPWUZ, we have learnt that we could easily request time off from work as it is our right,” Dorothy laughs.

The GAPWUZ team has been called in by its members to help out with plenty of other cases regarding worker welfare, representation and related issues.

Dorothy acknowledges the great support she and her fellow farm workers have received and is now very happy to have had leadership training through the union.

Dorothy Inusa (center) flanked by other farm workers that have been trained for leadership by GAPWUZ through the She Leads project, Shelter Zhuwaki of Luxaflo Roses (left) and Ruth Makazhu from Mazowe (right)