THE EFF has heaped praise on the parliamentary oversight visits to farms to look into the living and working conditions of farm workers, farm dwellers and farmers.
This after the employment and labour portfolio committee with its counterpart on agriculture, land reform and rural development conducted three-day oversight visits that ended on Monday in Gauteng and North West.
The visits were a sequel to the National Assembly resolution adopted in November 2020 instructing the two committees to assess government’s commitments toward improved living and working conditions in the farming communities, among other things.
The visits started in other provinces in April and are set to be concluded at the end of this month.
EFF spokesperson Sinawo Thambo said his party acknowledged the work done by the two committees.
“Thambo said the oversight visits were as a result of his party’s motion calling for the establishment of an inquiry to investigate the living and working conditions of the farm workers and farm dwellers.
“The ruling party did not see the urgency of the situation and rather asked that committees do this investigation in the normal course of their work. It is for this reason that these committees have taken so long to start doing this critically important work,” he said.
Thambo said farm workers and farm dwellers were some of the most vulnerable section of the labour force in the country.
“What the committees have uncovered thus far reveals hard truths and paints a grim picture of working and living conditions, and are characterised by frequent evictions, physical assaults of farm workers, dwellers and labour tenants.
“Farm workers are exposed to violence, a gross violation of human rights, lack of adequate housing and lack of access to proper sanitation and clean running water,” he said.
Thambo also said the crimes and violation of human rights were often reported to the police but resulted in no investigation of the perpetrators.
“The preliminary findings also reveal that although legal protection in terms of applicable laws, including mandatory minimum age extended to farm workers’ labour rights, generally, there is widespread non-compliance with these laws.”
He blamed the state of affairs on the owning “farming class” being left untouchable to continue to benefit from colonial and apartheid acquired privileges.
“This will continue to be the case until the state takes the land from these thugs and racists, and gives it over to the farm workers themselves,” Thambo said.
Meanwhile, Mandla Mandela, the leader of the joint committee to North West, said they heard during a public meeting on Monday grievances of the community, which included unprocessed land claims.
Mandela said the committee also heard about farm workers, farm dwellers and labour tenants complaining of farmers not providing transport for their children to go to school.
“They also told the committee that their houses are dilapidated and lack water, sanitation and electricity,” he said.
He also said some of the youth complained of the high rate of unemployment in the area and that the farmers were paying far less than the minimum wage.
“Their poverty forces them to take what they can get. They also told the committee that foreign nationals are taking their jobs and that they need training on farming skills,” Mandela said.