A visit to North West farms by parliamentary committees found that farm workers were not being paid the minimum wage while others lived in terrible and deplorable conditions.
The visit was conducted by the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (ALRRD) as well as the Committee on Employment and Labour on Saturday.
The committees conducted a joint oversight on three farms at the Matlosana Local Municipality in the North West on the living and working conditions of farmworkers, farm-dwellers and labour tenants.
FARM WORKERS SEVERELY UNDERPAID
Workers at the Bona Bona Game Farm told committee members of being underpaid and not being compensated for overtime work.
“The committees found that the farm was non-compliant with some of the legislation impacting farm labourers. The areas of non-compliance include the non-payment of the standard minimum wage and they are not compensated at the correct rate for overtime worked on a Saturday and Sunday.”Inkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, leader of the delegation of the oversight to the North West province
In addition, the farm does not comply with their payment towards the Unemployment Insurance Fund on behalf of their workers. The farm is given 14 days to correct the non-compliance and the Department of Employment and Labour will be following up with the farm.
“This visit must be seen in the light that we want better living and working conditions for farm workers, farm dwellers and labour tenants,” Mandela said.
52 FARM FAMILIES WITHOUT ACCOMMODATION
Another farm, Hartbeesfontein, has 52 families from surrounding farms who relocated to the property after being evicted.
Despite the farm being bought by the Department of ALRRD, there were no homes to accommodate the 52 families.
Instead, temporary units are erected on the farm. Other people lived in shacks with no water, electricity or sanitation.
While others were content with the living conditions, some wanted to return to where their loved ones were buried, said Mandela.
“The committee requested the Department of ALRRD to engage with the Department of Human Settlements and the municipality to fast-track the building of houses and the delivery of services to the area,” said Mandela.
13 FAMILIES LIVING IN DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS DUE TO ALRRD
The third farm visited was Beatrix Farm following a complaint that the ALRRD department was dragging its feet in assisting the owners of the farm.
Families were found living in deplorable conditions in dilapidated mud and iron structures with no running water, electricity or sanitation.
“Their unemployment rate is high and there is no agricultural activity on the farm.”
Farm workers, dwellers and labour tenants urge the committee to intervene to fast track approval of business plans which are submitted by the provincial office to the national department.
“The approval of the business plan and the funding will assist them to build houses, ablution facilities, purchase production infrastructure and the ability to start growing crops and livestock. The Department of ALRRD responded that the project was earmarked for funding in the current 2022/2023 financial year.”