Oversight committee find farms in ‘deplorable’ conditions, non-compliance of minimum wage

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Leader of the joint oversight delegation Mandla Mandela said this visit was necessitated in light of better living and working conditions for farm workers, farm dwellers and labour tenants. Photo: @deptoflabour / Twitter
Leader of the joint oversight delegation Mandla Mandela said this visit was necessitated in light of better living and working conditions for farm workers, farm dwellers and labour tenants. Photo: @deptoflabour / Twitter

NEWS


Two parliamentary oversight committees have found that at least three farms are not compliant with some legislation, including a lack of minimum wage pay, which impacts farm labourers.

Leader of the joint oversight delegation Mandla Mandela said this visit was necessitated in light of better living and working conditions for farm workers, farm dwellers and labour tenants.

“The areas of non-compliance included the non-payment of the standard minimum wage, and farmers were not compensated at the correct rate for overtime worked on a Saturday or Sunday.”

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, and the Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour conducted a joint oversight visit to three farms at Matlosana Local Municipality in North West to assess the living and working conditions.

In a statement on Sunday, the committee said it first visited Bona Bona Game Farm on Saturday where it met farm workers and talked about their employment conditions. The game farm was given 14 days to rectify areas of non-compliance, and the labour department was told to follow up with the farm.

 The statement said: 

The farm was also not compliant with its payment towards the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Hartbeesfontein was the second farm that the committee visited. It found that 52 families were relocated to the farm from surrounding farms when they were evicted.

The farm was bought by the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development. However, there were no homes to accommodate the 52 families.

“There were some temporary units on the farm while other families were living in shacks with no water, electricity or sanitation. After engaging with the beneficiaries, the committee found that some families were happy living there while some still wanted to go back to where their loved ones were buried.”

The committee told the department of agriculture 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.

The committee also visited Beatrix Farm, where it had received a complaint that the agricultural and land reform department was dragging its feet in assisting the owners with approval and funding.

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The farm further said that the 642 hectares of farmland was acquired through the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy in 2014 for 13 families who had occupied the farm since 1952, but conditions were still deplorable.

“The committee found the families were living in deplorable conditions in dilapidated mud and iron structures with no running water, electricity or sanitation. The unemployment rate is high and there are no agricultural activities on the farm.” The statement said:

The beneficiaries appealed to the committee to intervene and fast track the approval of the business plan that was submitted by the provincial office to the national department.

The committee said that the owners wanted to build houses and ablution facilities, and purchase production infrastructure to start farming.

The agriculture and land reform department responded that the project was earmarked for funding in the 2022/23 financial year through its Land Development Support Programme.


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