Speech by Limpopo MEC for Agriculture, Ms Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba during the farm workers award ceremony, Lephalale
25 May 2010
The honourable mayor
The Head of Department of Agriculture, Professor Nesamvuni
Senior staff members of the department
The leadership from the municipality
The people that brought us here, farm workers
Ladies and gentlemen
We meet here again to recognise talent, to recognise the ability of the human excellence. We meet here just a few days after we have had a successful Farm Workers Summit, were more than 250 farm workers and farmer representatives met with us in Bela-Bela to look into the challenges that beset us in our world. We are glad, that in that summit we were able to reach consensus on many an issue that was seen as difficult in the past.
The government of the day is very clear on the issues that we need to look into. There is no argument that we need to make sure that there is food security for all. That food is not only available, but also affordable. That in itself is an indication that the government is serious about the direction in which we need to go as a country.
Program director, before the recent Farm Workers Summit, we had gone around the country to assess the situation in which farm workers live and work.
A random sample shows us that in Mopani, there is still a lot of child labour practiced. Most farms do not have schools; health facilities are also very scarce. We also discovered that farm workers do not have working contracts, and are also not allowed to join trade unions.
The same situation prevails in Sekhukhune and Capricorn and other districts. The situation here in the Waterberg is that farm workers are underpaid, and a lot of foreign workers are employed.
The fact of the matter is that farm workers are still treated as second class citizens in the country of their birth. As a government and a department, we have for the past few months been trying to level the playing fields.
The MEC and the management have met with farm workers unions and farm owners in an effort to understand what and how we can assist each other. Farmer representatives have always assured us that they are willing to level the playing fields.
They raised concerns that farm workers are lazy and do not abide by the rule that pertains in the different farms. They also complain about farm killings and intimidation of sorts.
One thing we do agree on is that production levels should remain high, so that there can be food in the country, especially in Limpopo. Whilst on this matter, we are aware of the many dynamics within the farming community. We believe the relationships that we have build with farm workers should continue as such.
Amongst other things that formed resolutions at the farm workers summit is:
1. Compliance with sectoral determination
* Improved legislation
* Shorten enforcement process
* Awareness creation
* Expose defaulting employers.
2. Setting of realistic performance targets between the employer and employees.
* Employers should not expect more than what the farm workers could deliver in a given time. It is necessary to set realistic targets.
3. Work towards improved productivity
* Training is necessary to improve productivity
* Use of improved equipments on the farms will enhance productivity.
4. Put in place health and safety structures
* Farm workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals on a daily basis, therefore they need to be trained to handle these chemicals properly.
* Compliance with Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation is also a necessity.
5. Development of integrated agri-villages
* As a concept of residential or housing model including health facilities.
* This will provide farm workers or dwellers with suitable living conditions.
* Ensure effective patrolling along borders
* Awareness campaigns on human rights of farm workers
* Collaborations with community policing fora's.
7. Provision of Transport for farm workers
* Employers to provide farm workers with transport to and from work
* Transport policy in this regard to be formulated
* Improvement of roads conditions on farms
There are many other issues that were deliberated upon, and I may not be able to cover all of them here. Some of the issues include skills development, education for farm worker's children, land tenure, access to water and electricity, provision of Sport and recreation facilities.
I know many a farm workers had concerns that we as management speak a lot of English and Afrikaans with farm owners, and they in turn suspect we must be in cahoots with them and therefore cannot be trusted.
The truth of the matter is that our speaking of a lot of English and drinking tea has nothing to do with our loyalty and what we need to do.
This government that is run by the ANC has a duty to fulfil. The mandates are very clear, and if we dare fail, history will never forgive us.
Program director, we appreciate the work that the Lephalale municipality is doing and I believe they pose a serious challenge to other districts and municipalities to recognise hard work were it is due.
I wish to therefore congratulate farm unions and business in this area who when they were approached to assist, did not resist to do such.
The extent of your gesture shows that, "together we can do more".
The contributions to this function by private business should be commended. It shows that you are putting your money were your mouth is. I hope this gesture will be extended and stretched to the next level.
One is also expecting to hear that provision has been made for farm workers to view the world cup in their different work stations. Remember, this is spectacular will never be repeated again in our continent.
Do you want to deny a few people to be part of the world cup, just this once? I guess No. When 39 farm workers come to this stage to receive their awards tonight, I wish to remind them that all of them are winners.
This should include even those who are at home, who did not make it either to the top five or the top 39. The reason why some of you are here is because you are representing everybody.
You represent generations of successive farm workers who have seen their products advertised on huge bill boards, radio and television without their names being mentioned.
You represent those who died in the farms and were unable to be buried in the land were their ancestors lay. Tonight is your night and we want you to shine bright. Up there with the moon and the stars! This is your night!
I thank you.
Source: Department of Agriculture, Limpopo Provincial Government (http://www.lda.gov.za/)
Issued by: Limpopo Agriculture
25 May 2010
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