September 19, 2023

Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development completes three-day monitoring program

The three-day monitoring program examining the living conditions of Limpopo residents and agricultural workers was concluded by the portfolio committees on agriculture, land reform and rural development and employment and labour.

A committee group met the Mathye family at Purekrans Farm 271 KR in the Waterberg district. Mr. Shadrack Mathye started working at Purekrans Farm at the age of ten, following in the footsteps of his parents.

After receiving an eviction notice from the farm owner, he filed a labor tenant claim with the Department of Agriculture in 2001.

After receiving the claim in 2021, the ministry began reviewing it by providing the owner with a Section 17 Notice in May 2022.

The farmer was notified of the department’s intention to purchase 343 hectares of the farm in the name of the Mathye family in the notice. The government expects a response from the owner by the end of June, failing which it will take legal action against the owner.

Since the family has been waiting for 21 years, committee chairman and head of the delegation, Inkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, asked the department when they expected to finalize the request.

The department responded by saying it has set a target of processing 43 applications in Limpopo this financial year and has set aside R217 million to process the remaining 293 applications.

The delegation asked for a three-month update on the government’s claim to ensure Mr Mathye’s ambition to own the property in his lifetime is realized.

The party also paid a visit to Krispy Farm in Mookopong, where workers are paid R4,900 a month, slightly above the legal minimum wage.

210 South Africans and 35 foreign nationals work at the farm, which is being closed. Going forward, the farm will only employ South Africans. According to the committee, farm staff are periodically sent for training on crop production and the packing station.

The delegation was particularly pleased to learn that the farm owners have hired advisers to help them design a shareholding system in which employees who have worked on the farm for more than seven years are eligible to obtain shares.

The delegation also spoke at a public meeting in the local municipality of Mookopong, where they heard horrific stories of farm workers deprived of access to clean water. Instead, they are forced to drink from polluted rivers, where animals also drink.

Farmworkers, like those in other districts, have complained of being prevented from visiting family graveyard sites and therefore unable to carry on their traditional traditions. They asked for help from the delegation.

They also expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of adequate land on which to build homes, as well as the lack of running water, sanitation and electricity. They also complained of being evicted from the farms without their consent.

They informed the delegation that some farmers in the Waterberg region paid them R50 a day for agricultural work. They also have no access to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, a pension or any other benefit.

Additionally, several farmers in the district only use immigrant workers.

All people’s contributions are documented and they will be handed over to the Ministries of Agriculture, Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, as well as the Ministry of Employment and Labour, according to Inkosi Mandela.

After that, the departments must report back to the committee on their responses to the briefs.

If the farm workers do not have an answer, they should contact the committee again.
The Parliament of the Republic of South Africa is distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Republic of South Africa.

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