Farmer’s Weekly – 23 August 2019

(Kiana) #1
23 August 2019 farmer’sweekly 21

Followinga recentjudgmentby
the Pietermaritzburg High Court,
municipalities in South Africa are
now compelled to start providing
basic services to farm dwellers and
labour tenants nationwide. The court’s
ruling followed a two-year battle
instituted jointly by the Association
for Rural Advancement (AFRA) and
the Legal Resources Centre (LRC)
against various KwaZulu-Natal
municipalities and leaders of provincial
and national government departments.
A joint AFRA/LRC statement said
that for too long municipalities had
failed to provide farm dwellers and
labour tenants within their jurisdiction
with access to potable water, adequate
sanitation and refuse collection.
“Prior to the legal application, AFRA

200 farm dwellers and labour tenants
claiming [to have] no access to
basic services. In many cases, when
they approach their municipalities
to raise their concerns, municipal
officials would inform them that
farm owners prevent [the officials]
from gaining access to their farms,
thereby obstructing them from
providing basic municipal services to
farm dwellers,” the statement said.
The statement said AFRA and the
LRC were “happy” that the High
Court had “correctly acknowledged”
municipalities’ breach of South
Africa’s Constitution in failing to
provide farm dwellers and labour
tenants with their basic rights.
The two organisations also

municipalities to remedy this situation.
Commenting on the judgment,
Theo Boshoff, head of legal intelligence
at Agbiz, said the High Court had
found that municipalities could no
longer use lack of budget or resources
as excuses not to provide farm dwellers
and labour tenants with basic services.
“The court also dealt with the
rights and obligations of the property
owner. The court reaffirmed that
the duty to provide basic services [to
farm dwellers and labour tenants]
rested with the municipality, whilst
the property owners had a negative
duty not to do anything that could
interfere with or deprive the [farm
dwellers and labour tenants] of this
right,” he explained. – Lloyd Phillips

RuRal Development

Municipalities ordered to provide services to farm dwellers

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Free State dairy farmers decline, but milk volumes up

sourced from producers in
the Free State,” he said.
Philip Swart, manager of
member services at the Milk
Producers’ Organisation (MPO),
also confirmed that more than
one buyer had closed or combined
routes in inland areas such as
the Free State or North West
during the past six to 18 months.
“We are worried about
especially the smaller inland
producers, because buyers
no longer want to drive long
distances between producers
to collect milk,” he said.
He said historic data showed
the number of dairy farmers
in South Africa had declined
65% between 2009 and 2019,
with some ceasing operations
entirely, while others increased
the size of their operations.
“The number of dairy farmers
in the Free State declined 84%
and in North West 81%, so inland
farmers were [affected] more than
those in the coastal production
areas,” he said. Swart could not
quantify how many had ceased

operations due to route closures,
but said the MPO had engaged
with buyers to accommodate
producers in areas such as the
Bloemfontein, Bethlehem and
Parys districts. The most severe
impact was in the Wesselsbron/
Bultfontein area where alternative
buyers could not be sourced.
Feedback the MPO received
from buyers was that they
preferred travelling longer
distances to the coast because
milk prices were lower,
producers were larger or more
centralised, and quality was
more consistent. “They also
highlighted infrastructure, saying
poor roads caused damage to
vehicles that resulted in higher
transport costs,” Swart said.
Despite the number of Free
State dairy farmers declining
from more than 900 in 2009
to about 150 this year, Swart
said production volumes in the
province had increased from
6,1% to 7,7% of total production
in South Africa over the past
three years. – Sabrina Dean
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