As a tenant farmer on a large cattle plantation near the big city of Lusaka, Nyimba is beholden to the huge corporation Northern Zambezi Traders/PAMA Meats.
For years Nyimba’s monthly was about $75, barely enough to survive. His end-payments were supposed to accumulate, and after his eight years there, they should have amounted to $3000, enough to start a small business.
During these 8 years, Nyimba and his wife raised 5 children in substandard housing; a tiny metal quanset hut with three curtained-off stalls as bedrooms, no plumbing or electricity. The oldest, Ann, was born paralyzed from the neck down, so Anastasia was unable to work. I became involved with the family when Sydney requested a wheelchair for his cousin.
Because transport to the hospital was unaffordable, Ann died from Malaria in 2009.
After this tragedy Sydney asked the AACDP to help them buy supplies for a small crop of corn that would feed the family for a year. It seemed the least we could do.
In January 2010, just as his corn was ready for harvest, Nyimba was fired for growing his corn in the wrong area. Although others had used the same land, they were not fired. He was forced to leave his home within 24 hours and denied his $2000 end-payment.
I have spent a lot of time and energy researching contact info for this company to question them concerning this inhumane “policy” which I have heard is illegal but widely tolerated. We looked for agencies that should have been able to help us: the Zambian Labor Office and the International Farm Workers Union, but all avenues led to empty promises or affirmation of the company.
No one was interested in supporting a poor Zambian man against a big corporation.
When in Zambia this March I went several times to Mazabuka to speak to the farm manager at PAMA, who was clearly uncomfortable and offered no help at all, as well as the Labor Office there. The Senior Officer there seemed to agree that none of the proper procedures for dismissal had been followed and said he would look into the matter. That was weeks ago, and so far, I have heard nothing.
I met a young lawyer who promised to find help for our dispute. The liberal paper agreed to listen to this story. Can we succeed in getting this case heard by a legitimate court, the one called the Industrial Relations Court? That’s our goal, and I’m not giving up.