Soon after his appointment as the new agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister, Senzeni Zokwana, knew that handling his portfolio was not going to be a walk in the park. Without doubt, the biggest challenge he faces is the unanswered land question: millions of acres of agricultural land yet to be distributed to the country’s landless previously disadvantaged, whose patience is wearing thin.
But before Zokwana breaks a sweat on the national issue, he might have to ensure that herders tending his cattle earn the prescribed minimum wage. The City Press reported that his young cattle herder earned R26 a day and lived in deplorable conditions, while the minimum wage for a farm worker is R111, 72 for a nine-hour workday.
As expected, the report occasioned heated public debate. The general sentiment of people that Transform SA contacted, was that, as a senior member of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and former President of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Zokwana should have known better how to treat his farm workers with the decency they rightly deserved.
“As someone society looks up to who is in the limelight, Comrade Zokwana should ensure that charity begins at home,” a Johannesburg blue-collar told Transform SA. Unquestionably, not many would dispute that point.