#AnimalFarmZA: What Zokwana and Modise’s farmerworkers working conditions reflect

Recently Senzeni Zokwana almost had his… cut off because he, according to a City Press report early last month, paid his farm workers less than the sectoral determination regulation.

At the time he claimed he was not a minister and therefore could not afford to pay the required salary by law to his farmworkers (emphasis). Even SACP’s Blade Ndzimande defended him on Power FM a few days later after the City Press broke the story, saying this was meant to cast aspersion and tarnish Zokwana’s image.

This seeming abuse by Zokwana was met by harsh criticism from Cosatu while NUM sought to defend him, with SACP leader Blade Ndzimande doing just that – defending him – on Power FM. But he, Zokwana, later apologised and promised the world to pay his newly found farmworker(s) as per the sectoral determination.

Now enter Thandi Modise.

She reportedly paid her farmworkers, too, far less than the sectoral determination such that they had to ask for food at their neighbours, according to a Mail & Guardian report and The Times report yesterday. Of course, unexpectedly, Modise has denied this. Unfortunately, no-one has ascertained how much she paid her farmworkers, with The Times claiming (although denied) they were paid about R25 a day.

Remember, she bought the farm while she was Premier of North West and unlike Zokwana and the fact that she was loaned about R5m by a bank – she cannot claim unaffordability of her farmworkers’salaries. Too bad they apparently left long because they could indicate how much they were paid.

Like NUM and Ndzimande to Zokwana, the ANC, too, did not want to be left alone. It came to Modise’s defence, accusing opposition parties of now politicising and “opportunistically using [Modise’s seeming abuse] to attack the ANC and discredit its policies on land reform”.

It appears the ruling party was responding to, among others, DA’s statement that Modise should be held accountable for what had happened at her farm and criminally charged. This after the SPCSA noted that the farm owner, Modise, should be criminally charged for, among others, “actions or negligence [that] led to animals suffering to the point of starvation and resorting to eating one another at the Modderfontein farm in the North West Province”.

While the focus seems to now have been on these farmworkers – at least Zokwana’s and Modise’s, especially whether they are being paid as per the sectoral determination, also taking into account the fact that they are sometimes abused –if these farmworkers can be subjected to such atrocities and abuse, what of their – Modise’s and Zokwana’s – gardeners and or Helpers in their own backyard, right where they live (or not?)

Put differently, how much abuse in terms of denied rights and fair pay as per our laws and regulations do our mothers (as Helpers) and fathers (as Uncles) have to endure at the hands of our political leaders and at the hands of just ordinary members like you reading this post and your circle of friends and or family members, the rich, our elites and middle class, and who will defend them/their cause?

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